How productive is the Nigerian labour force?


Nigerians are known to be very hardworking. But the productivity of its labour force, which makes up about 29 percent of its population has often been questioned. A Release by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealing its Labour Productivity figures for the period 2010 to 2014 showed Nigeria’s productivity per hour/annum in Naira was N639.34 ($3.2) up 52 percent from N419.7 in 2010. However, this is still low when compared with other emerging countries.

The Labour productivity –the amount of labour input required to produce a unit of output — in emerging countries like Russia, Brazil and Turkey is much higher than Nigeria’s. In 2012, Turkey recorded $28.9/hour, Russia, $24/hour, Brazil $10.7/hour these are significantly higher than Nigeria’s equivalent of $3.5/hour. It gets worse when compared to United Kingdom’s $48.5/hour, United States’ $64.1/hour, and Norway’s $86.6/hour.

Some contributors to the low value of productivity include the lack of quality educational institutions, investment climate, and favourable policy support to businesses. These are difficulties identified over time by Small and medium scale business owners in particular.

The amount of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) produced per hour could also be low due to the excess supply of labour. The high unemployment rate gradually results in underemployment, therefore, previously idle labour desperately settle for low-skilled, low paying jobs. Statistics by the NBS show that while the total labour force expanded by about 12 percent between 2010 and 2014, the size of the populace working less than 20 hours a week increased by 40 percent during the same period, whereas, the fully employed rose by just 7 percent. The percentage of low skilled labour in Nigeria is at a maximum. Statistics show that only 11 percent of the labour force has post-secondary school education.

The analysis reported here simply draws attention to Nigeria’s relatively low labour productivity. Although, growth in labour productivity seems constant, it is continuously hindered by the high levels of unemployment and underemployment as well as low skill.

Nigeria needs to focus on solving the problem of unemployment and underemployment, improve the general training of workers, as well as improve its educational sector.

By April Dokpesi

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