Unemployment rate in Nigeria has continued to experience a rapid-rise in recent years, with youth unemployment accounting for more than half of the unemployed citizens; According to a report by the national bureau of statistics in 2017, over 45% of a population of 85.1 million labor force are either unemployed or underemployed which therefore means with the fast growing rate of the Nigerian labor force and the increasing rate of unemployment, over 45 million Nigerians stand technically unemployed today, considering the youth make up more than 50% of the country’s population.
Africa generally is not left out of this as out of over 10 million youths that join the labor force each year, less than 3 million, are in standard employment, while the rest are either unemployed, underemployed or vulnerably employed.
How then can more standard jobs be created for the large number of youths who leave their various higher institutions yearly to join an ever-increasing labor force with little or no possibilities for employment. In order to address this question, let’s take a proper look at the solid minerals industry, with a focus on Nigeria.
Blessed with vast natural resources, Nigeria should be the wealthiest country in Africa and one of the top 5 wealthiest countries in the world. But mismanagements, corruption, tribal and social favoritism, and lack of technically skilled people in the right places of government and governmental institutions have caused the country to drift into mayhem and degrading levels over the past 57+ years. To create jobs for an ever-increasing unemployed labor force, dedicating quality attention to restructuring the solid minerals industry can create opportunities for more than 1 million jobs in less than three years in Nigeria.
Here’s a proposal from Ogogo Elisha on how to create millions of jobs in the solid mineral industry:
Creation Of Mining & Export-Focused Schools:
The first stride to creating jobs in the solid minerals industry is to establish skill acquisition programs in areas of solid mineral and export. Multiple Quality vocational training centers should be set up in every state in Nigeria. These training centers would have professionally skilled and qualified individuals to train people on skills that are critical to the success of mining solid minerals, its value chain and the effective lead generation for getting international buyers who would either buy the mined raw commodities or its processed form.
The first thing the country gains from setting up these training centers across all the states in Nigeria is that it will create jobs for the professionally skilled individuals who would run and manage the various training centers, from which these centers would go on to become building blocks for the training of a generation of individuals who would take advantage of what they were taught, apply it in the solid mineral industry for the purpose of facilitating exports that will contribute immensely to the Nigerian GDP, thereby creating jobs in the process.
Creation Of Solid Mineral Processing Facilities:
More important, rather than an export of the ores or concentrates, metal ores can further be processed into alloys and exported directly to the target market which are the manufacturing industries, therefore creating huge revenue for the company and also helping to boost the Nigerian economy. The important thing to note about processing is that its more advantageous to the economy in terms of revenue generation and much more important, processing facilities create thousands of jobs for people thereby helping to cut down unemployment Depending on the quantity of product in metric tons a buyer requests to purchase, the number of individuals who may work in a facility to process the ore to alloys could range from 50-100 or more.
Therefore If 200 companies prepare shipments yearly in an average of 5000 metric tons capacity for export, they would each have to employ at least 200 workers for the processing operations, which amounts to a minimum of 40,000 employed Nigerians.
With a consistent increase in international demand, exporting large volumes of solid mineral products to buyers at any point in time, the solid mineral industry would continue to create more and more direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
Establish A Network Of Global-Standard Mineral Testing Laboratories:
A major reason a lot of people shy away from buying mineral resources like Manganese, lead, copper etc., for export is the lack of standard mineral testing laboratories which reflects after the products are transported to Lagos from the mines and seller decides to do a re-test to confirm that the miner’s lab report is correct and accurate before export, this final test may determine that what was purchased is practically not what it was claimed to be which therefore amounts to a huge loss for the seller.
To solve this issue and establish a more reliable export process, the government must ensure that standard test centers are available in all states for all types of mineral testing. This would therefore create job opportunities for people who would work in all of these test centers and would also help improve the quality of products that are mined and exported from Nigeria, which will also lead to increased purchases by foreign buyers, which definitely creates more jobs for the mining to export supply chain process.
Establishment Of Mining support services:
Creating Mining support services involves the provision of mining equipment for use such as loaders, trucks for transportation, draglines, blasthole drills and much more to make the mining process a lot easier. For example, if an order of one thousand metric-tons of muscovite-mica blocks is placed, more than a hundred people would be needed to work on the mines together with excavation and screening machineries to have the mineral mined on time. While some set of workers are engaged in the washing process, another set are concerned with bagging.
Furthermore, a total number of 35 trucks would be needed to transport the Mined products from the mines to the shipping point, with each trucks having a driver and at least two other assistants. This entire process alone could lead to the employment of up to 400 people in the complete chain per shipment. Majority of supplies are on long contract duration, which ensures standard monthly supplies of same quantity with possibilities for increase and more clients, which means more employment opportunities.
But when tools that are supposed to make the mining process easier are out of place, production time becomes high which affects supply deadlines and automatically affects ability to cater for increasing demands also poor mining models would be used which would cause the product specification demands difficult to meet thereby resulting in losing international buyers.
Provision of access to mining support services that don’t just accelerate the mining process but are also subsidized and affordable to miners by the government would help to discourage miners from traditional time-wasting means of mining and also curb activities of companies who exploit miners with their services.
To achieve this, government should set up parastatals with focus on providing mining support services to miners across Nigeria, or focus on empowering private companies who can provide these services through easily accessible low interest or interest free loans for purchase of these mining tools and machineries, so that they can offer these services at highly reduced and affordable costs to miners while also helping to keeping the exporters’ integrity with their buyers undamaged.
Easy Access to Export Finance:
Creating easy accessibility to export finance is very important to the growth of the solid minerals industry because if exporters cannot easily access finance to mobilize miners who will mine the solid minerals and also be able to cover for the shipment and transport cost in order to meet their purchase orders, the solid mineral industry will not experience growth which directly affects the nation’s economy and productivity. Making access to export finance and process easy is very critical to the growth of the solid mineral industry which has so much prospect and capacity for massive employment.
An important solution to the issue of access to export finance, is that government should create means by which exporters can easily access financial aid if the following conditions are met:
- Buyer is willing to place an irrevocable Standby Letter of Credit (SBLC) from a top 50 world prime banks.
- Buyer has issued an Irrevocable Corporate Purchase Order (ICPO).
- Exporter has a signed a supply and sales contract with the buyer, with product specification and contract procedure explicitly stated.
- Exporter has found mine/mines that can produce the required specification and quantity to satisfy buyer demand.
Satisfying these conditions is enough for any financial institution to grant an exporter easy access to export finance because a standby letter of credit (SBLC) is a bank assurance of or security for payment once the supply is accomplished with conditions on the sales contract met. Exporter’s bank communicates with buyer’s bank to automatically have the blocked funds or payment released to exporter’s account.
With documents satisfying these conditions ready, export finance ought-to be of easy accessibility to qualified exporters rather than demand ludicrous conditions be met. Provision of easily accessible export finance to exporters that satisfy these stated conditions will promote more exportation in the solid mineral industry and create thousands of jobs in the whole value chain.
Special Incentives and privileges to Companies Operating In The Solid Mineral Industry
Government should provide incentives to companies on the import of mining equipments by way of reduction in or removal of heavy import duties. Tax cuts and more should also be granted to companies operating in this industry.
As stated before, easy accessibility to export finance should be provided, not excluding grants as special privileges and tax-cuts or tax-free period or holidays for new companies. This will assist them in investing more capital in their businesses and also create more standard employments.
Corrupt Practices Should Be Thoroughly checked with Severe Punishments At All Levels of government bodies/agencies regulating the solid mineral industry:
All that has been discussed above will have no value or probability for success if corruption in the solid mineral industry is not just highly curbed, but completely eradicated. If corruption is strongly dealt with, more resources and funds would go into business productivity, which would propel growth, development and more employment in the industry.
Global awareness should be done on how foreign buyers can better find genuine exporters. this would help eliminate the perception and notion that every Nigerian is a swindler. An absence of such awareness will make a lot of potential buyers advance to other countries for their solid mineral demands, which would cause the industry to experience little or no growth, development and also unable to provide employments.
By paying quality attention to building a trustworthy and reputable image for Nigeria on the global trade market through adequate awareness and easy access to information that would allow buyers make safe transactions with genuine Nigerian exporters, our global reputation would progressively improve which will lead to more buyers having confidence in Nigerian exporters which definitely means more export demands and invariably, more jobs.
Job creation involves a lot of sacrifices which many people either don’t have the technical-know-how to execute or are just unwilling. It’s a process that takes time to build, but with great potential to produce great result.
It is not a mistake that some landlocked countries with little or no mineral resources, like Austria, are amongst the richest countries in the world, but mineral resource rich countries like Nigeria remain in debt and struggling to be regarded as a developing nation. Unless we decisively take the right growth and developmental actions with no aim for short-cuts to success, we might never be able to achieve notable developments and financial independence.