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Posted Wed, Jul 26, 2023 6:11 PM

NESG Holds In-country Dissemination Workshop on Poverty and Inequality Relationships in Africa

From L-R - Dr. Scholastica Odhiambo is a Manager of Research at the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), Mr Henry C. Edeh, Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Ms Jane O. Ozor, Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Dr Faith Iyoha, Economist NESG, Professor Risikat Dauda,  Professor   of   Economics   of   the   University   of   Lagos, Professor Akin Osibogun, Professor at College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), in collaboration with the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), on Tuesday, 25th July 2023, held an In-Country Dissemination Workshop with the theme, “The Growth, Poverty, and Inequality Relationships in Africa (GPIR) collaborative research project”. 

The Growth, Poverty, and Inequality Relationships in Africa (GPIR) collaborative research project funded by NORAD is a sequel to one of the most successful collaborative projects of AERC undertaken in the late 1990s and early 2000, namely “Poverty, Income Distribution, and Labour Market Issues in Africa”. This project influenced the design of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers adopted across Africa.

In his welcome remarks, Chief Economist and director of research at the NESG, Dr Olusegun Omisakin, who was represented by Dr Seyi Vincent, an economist at the NESG, said that it has become more critical to generate policy recommendations for ensuring better living standards for the average Nigerian. She noted that poverty has risen despite an increase in Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) when GDP growth should help tackle poverty. “Multidimensional poverty rose from 43.7 in 2019 to 63.2 per cent in 2021. The workshop will focus on the effects of human capital development on multidimensional poverty and household improvement and, at the macroeconomic level, analyse why human capital development is key for economic competitiveness, improved living standards and economic growth that strengthens socio-economic development in Nigeria,” she stated. 

In her opening remarks, the manager of research at the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), Dr Scholastica Odhiambo, stated that the AERC have a capacity-building framework for thematic and collaborative research on contemporary topical issues in Africa. She reiterated that the workshop is based on existing studies and provides a platform for sharing evidence and encouraging policy dialogue on poverty, income distribution and growth issues. She further stated that discussions will contribute to pathways for policy action, alleviation of poverty and inequality and address continuous and emerging challenges on topical economic issues. 

While presenting a research paper on “Impact of Human Capital Endowment on Household Welfare in Nigeria,” Mr Henry C. Edeh of the Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, stated that the growth elasticity of poverty in Nigeria is relatively low and for every 1.0 per cent increase in growth, poverty reduction is 0.6 per cent which can be attributed to differences in welfare levels in urban and rural areas and across geo-political levels. He further revealed that according to the World Bank and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the poverty rate at the national level increased from 35% in 2010 to 41% in 2019, noting that the rate of inequality is also rising and that the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRI) report shows that Nigeria remains at the bottom of the CRI index.

Furthermore, Mr Edeh noted that the study found that an additional year of schooling significantly improved household income, and critical policy recommendation includes targeted social programmes that will enhance households through scholarships, health insurance that improve access of the poor to health services, increased employment opportunities through the provision of cheap energy sources and provision of basic infrastructures can significantly improve the wellbeing and quality of life of poor households in rural and urban areas. 

During the panel session, Prof Akin Osigbogun – Consultant, Public Health Physician and Member of the Health Policy Commission, NESG, said Nigeria is not using its human capital resources well. He noted that countries with the worst health outcomes have increased out-of-pocket spending. “As much as 70% of total health expenditure is from private and out-of-pocket spending, which needs to be changed. If 50 million Nigeria can pay 1000 naira a month, we will have 50 billion and for 12 months is 600 billion which is lesser than what people spend on phone calls and larger than the national budget on health at the moment,” he stated. 

Professor Osibogun further stated that it was critical for Nigeria to adopt a subsidiary principle where such funds are locally managed, and government can retain a percentage of the public good that is totally financed in the interest of the public, noting that countries with social advancement programs already have social structures on the ground. 

The MD/CEO Clina-Lancet Laboratories and Member of the Health Policy Commission, NESG, Dr Dawodu Olayemi, said that the research backs a lot of assumptions in terms of the distribution of education, health and infrastructure from rural to urban areas and across geo-political zones. Urban dwellers have access to better healthcare, better personnel and funding than those in rural areas, noting the importance of educating the public to invest in health to reduce poverty and close the inequality gap.

Faculty Member, Non-residential Fellowship Programme, NESG, Professor Risikat Dauda, said that Nigeria needs economic growth that will lead to an appreciable decrease in poverty, bring about employment opportunities, reduce inequalities and ensure the poor and vulnerable groups have access to education. She reiterated the importance of having policy prescriptions that address the poor and vulnerable groups, as they are mainly in the informal sector, while also noting the need for government to create an enabling environment that encourages all Nigerians to thrive through the provision of adequate and constant power supply, access to good infrastructure and access to funds and loans.

The Executive Director of the Policy Innovation Centre of the NESG, Dr Osasuyi Dirisu, said that disparities in the country must be viewed from the supply and demand sides by identifying the sociocultural contexts that create disparities in the health sector, such as access to education and social norms that drive early child marriage, transactional opportunities and objectification of young girls. She noted that Investments must consider the gender gap and be responsive to gender and regional disparities by carrying communities along and government providing focused leadership that sees development as a collective and business opportunity for growth and development in the country.

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