Improving employment and income opportunities
Project title: Vocational training for start-ups in Niger (ProEMPLOI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Planning
Overall term: 2017 bis 2020
In the UN’s last Human Development Index from 2016, Niger assumed the second-to-last position worldwide, ranking 187 out of 188 countries. Nearly 60 per cent of the country’s 19.9 million inhabitants (2015 figure) live below the national poverty level. If the current growth rate persists, Niger’s population is set to double in size every 20 years. Currently, 70 per cent of Nigeriens are below the age of 25.
In recent years, Niger has become one of the most important transit countries for West African migrants making their way to North Africa and Europe. The regions of Agadez and Zinder are situated right along the primary migration routes. As a result of the burgeoning migration economy, direct and indirect employment opportunities have developed for the local population, some of which are illegal. The employment effects and economic development in these regions are extremely fragile and unsustainable. The recent adoption of a new migration law in 2016 and the criminalisation of the migration economy have led to substantial losses in income.
At the same time, Niger’s economy is not generating enough employment opportunities to absorb the rapidly growing youth population. The formal labour market is still rudimentary, employing a mere 7 per cent of the working population, and just 0.5 per cent of working-age individuals are employed by businesses with more than five workers. The country’s labour market is marred by underemployment and in-work poverty, which primarily affects young people who suffer from a lack of economic opportunities. Overall, the employment and income situation of Niger’s population is very unsatisfactory.
Employment and income opportunities for the local population in the regions of Agadez and Zinder are improved.
The project is implementing measures to promote employment and business opportunities. These are supplemented by short-term actions designed to generate immediate income for the population. The project is making efforts to counter the precarious labour market situation as well as to tackle poverty in general. It utilises an integrated approach to employment promotion covering three pillars: labour market supply, demand and placement. Additionally, it seeks to improve the general conditions in the region.
The project adopts a multilevel approach that specifically addresses four fields of activity:
- Strengthening regional structures and their ability to shape employment policies
- Implementing employment-promoting cash-for-work measures
Regional dialogue and coordination among private and public stakeholders are being expanded. The project is supporting regional representatives and national ministries in effectively coordinating and implementing employment-relevant measures in accordance with regional development plans. This is also meant to foster decentralisation, which has so far progressed only slowly. The project is also promoting increased involvement by local political stakeholders in central decision-making and planning processes.
- Improving the range of support measures aimed at promoting start-ups in potential growth sectors
- Enhancing access to business services among micro and small enterprises
The project’s integrated, needs-based approach to improving income and employment opportunities includes identifying local business models, raising awareness, providing training, and offering advisory and coaching services.
The project supports and advises the regional authorities in the overall planning and implementation of employment-related measures. For example, an action plan for promoting employment has been set up in the Agadez and Zinder regions. The methodological approach promotes the active role of the regional structures and makes sure that stakeholders identify strongly with the implementation process and its results. Consequently, the project ensures that regional authorities independently implement employment promotion measures in the long term.
The Cash for Work measures initiated by the project have secured around 2,500 young people a temporary basic income. Additional qualification measures also help them enter long-term employment relationships. As the work included erosion control and the renovation of public buildings such as schools and hospitals, the region’s infrastructure improved.
Eighty people from different professions, including tailors and hairdressers, have received training and basic equipment. This has allowed them to better use their business potential and increase their income - in some cases by up to 116 per cent.
The needs analysis for start-up entrepreneurs has been completed and the measures are now being implemented in cooperation with the local authorities.