Youth at Risk: How can the Private Sector help Nigeria Fight Boko Haram?

By Catarina Santos


Since 2007, Nigeria has attracted the most foreign direct investment in Sub-Sahara Africa due to its well-developed legal and banking systems. However, Boko Haram’s spread of violence to regions where oil and gas are extracted is now intimidating investors. Economically empowering youth is a key piece in this puzzle: the private sector needs a workforce, and youth need employment opportunities as an alternative to joining insurgent groups. Although radicalized Nigerians have not yet reached European or American cities, the potential for global economic impact from terrorism in Nigeria deserves attention. This article discusses the importance of the private sector’s involvement in fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria and recommends that the private sector focus on engaging in the northeast region of the country. The private sector should provide capacity building in various skills, especially sustainable agriculture practices; support youth education; and provide financial grants in areas that government programs have not reached.

Occupy_Nigeria_rally_in_Ojota_Temi (2)

A youth rally in Lagos, Nigeria in September 2012. Youth compose a significant portion of Nigerian society and lack economic opportunities, making them vulnerable to recruitment by Boko Haram. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Temi Kogbe, under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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Global Development Forum: Workforce Development Preview

The International Labor Organization estimates that 73.4 million youth were unemployed in 2013, and that youth were three times more susceptible to unemployment than adults. As a result, the role of formal education and training of youth in its influence on the quality and development of the workforce demands urgent attention. Private sector investment, alignment of employment skills, as well as education programs that feed into social stability will play integral roles in creating a more employable youth population and a fortified workforce.

World Youth Day will be celebrated in Krakow, Poland this year.

World Youth Day will be celebrated in Krakow, Poland this year.

Why should the private sector invest?

In 2013, nearly 300 million young people were not in education, employment, or training (NEET). The private sector has a role to play in supporting employment-focused education, but investment in this space should be driven by self-interest—effective workforce development will result in higher profitability in the long run by increasing the overall capability, quality, and efficiency of the workforce. Keeping in mind the relative strengths of both the public and private sectors, there is a clear window to create shared value, allowing both business and communities to jointly prosper. Through increased public-private partnerships and supply of skills training programs, the private sector can offer input where the public sector is unable to through deeper social investment. By financing recruitment, promotion and training, the private sector can better link business and social interests. Moreover, it can make youth more employable by aiding with the management of Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) programs, lowering or removing barriers to entry for disadvantaged students, and alleviating other social obstacles faced by youth in need of further education. Continue reading

Weekly Roundup

This week in development…

U.S. Development Policy/International Organizations

  • As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches, access to sanitation and safe drinking water remains the ‘least improved’ A recent UN report found that 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation facilities, while 1.8 billion people use contaminated water sources.
A water kiosk in Chipata, Zambia providing clean and sanitary water.

A water kiosk in Chipata, Zambia providing clean and sanitary water.

  • United Nation’s Population Fund (UNPF) recently released a major report on the State of the World Population. The report focuses on the economic potential of the 1.8 billion ‘youth bulge’, referring to the large global youth population many of whom are unemployed. The report estimates Africa’s growth to boost by a third if the continent invests enough in the younger generation. PPD earlier this year launched the Global Youth Wellbeing Index highlighting policies needed to capitalize on these demographic changes.

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Citizen Participation in the Global Youth Wellbeing Index

2009 Elections in Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Josh Etsey and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade used under a creative commons license.

2009 Elections in Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Josh Etsey and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade used under a creative commons license.

Citizen participation is critical to fostering social cohesion, inclusive development outcomes, and to ensuring transparency and accountability. Many of us know from personal experience, that the opportunities that we had for meaningful and positive participation in our youth, encouraged leadership and “soft” skills development, and set us up for lifelong engagement in civic and political processes.

With strength in numbers, youth today represent a powerful and innovative force to constructively advocate for, and create solutions to community issues through volunteering, advisory councils, social media and communications, voting, and collaboration.

Yet global surveys reveal youth often feel excluded from society and political processes, and believe their voices remain unheard in larger political dialogues. Such exclusion perpetuates apathy and frustration; can fuel disruptive or at times violent behavior and contributes to economic and social instability. Continue reading

Where’s the Economic Opportunity for the World’s Youth: Findings from the Global Youth Wellbeing Index

Students attend a maths class in Bosso, Nigeria. Thirty Nigerian refugees are studying at the school in addition to 300 Niger children.

Students attend a math class in Bosso, Nigeria. Thirty Nigerian refugees are studying at the school in addition to 300 Niger children. Photo taken from UNHCR’s flickr photostream used under a creative commons license.

By Nicole Goldin

Economic opportunity is a critical driver of individual and family security, and national growth, development and social progress. Harnessing the capacity of youth in particular, as producers and consumers, can be a boon to both national and the global economy alike. Yet around the world, youth in developed and emerging economies continue to face significant barriers to fulfill their economic promise and prospects. Around the world, young people are up to 4 times more likely to be unemployed than the general working population, with global youth unemployment rising above 13%, up from 11.5 percent in 2007. Less than 40% of youth worldwide are banked.

The Global Youth Wellbeing Index, released in April by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) with principal funding from Hilton Worldwide, economic opportunity was one of six domains and sub-indices included. The Index considers the state of youth in 30 countries around the world, which hold nearly 70 percent of the world’s youth population. Of the forty indicators that comprise the Index, seven make up the economic opportunity domain: GDP per capita; economic climate and competitiveness; youth lending from a financial institution; youth involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity; youth unemployment; youth not in education, employment, or training (NEET), and youths’ income and wealth expectation. Continue reading