In their campaign plans, both President Buhari and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar promised to create millions of jobs to address our frightening insecurity and unemployment situation. However, their lack of details on how the jobs will be created is worrisome and creating the impression that it is just one of the campaign promises that might not be fulfilled. This should not be so given that our economy is littered with many but untapped and easy opportunities that can create million of jobs over four years with over 1 million jobs achievable in 6 months. Most interestingly, the jobs can be created with limited expenditure and even with our present state of infrastructural development. All that is required is the proper and innovative understanding of a wealth redistribution framework through which job creation strategies can be crafted and implemented. In a simple economics terms, there are many ‘demands’ and ‘supplies’ that can be connected to create a market (and jobs) in virtually every sector of the Nigerian economy. While in some instances, some of these demands and supplies already exist but have not been properly understood and upgraded to create jobs, in other situations, they are absent but can easily be created. Most helpfully, some of the services through which the jobs can be created are already provided for within our Laws. The main task will be for the government to encourage and ensure that both the private and public sectors comply with the laws.
In this contribution, I will focus on the Communication Sector of the economy to explain how over 250,000 jobs can be created within 6 months. In subsequent articles, I will explain how over 8 million jobs can be created from the agricultural and manufacturing sectors; 50,000 jobs from the Sports Sector; 150,000 from the Transport Sector and 100, 000 from the Security Sector. Another 500,000 jobs can be created within 1-2years from Housing, Transport, Education and other service sectors.
The over 250, 000 jobs in the communications sector can be created through the further restructuring and revival of Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) and other related agencies. This can be achieved through the innovation of strategies that will ensure that NIPOST and other agencies deliver at least 10million items (letters and packages) every day in Nigeria. I am aware that this idea might be dismissed with the argument that the world is going paperless due to the advancement in information technology. I will return to this point shortly but it might be important to note that the UK Postal Service, Royal Mail delivers on average, over 60 million items (letters and parcels) every day except Sundays. Employing about 161, 000 employees and delivering over 20 billion items annually, it contributed about £10.8billion (about N5trillion) to the British economy in 2016. With a revenue of about £9 billion in 2016/17, it generated a profit of about £712 million (N331 billion). This shows that a letter delivering company generates revenue almost half of the 2018 Nigerian budget and it is richer than the entire south east and north central states of Nigeria using their internal generated revenue. The German Postal Service, Deutsche Post delivers about 70 million letters every day, six days in a week. With revenue of about 57billion Euros in 2017, it is one of the largest employers of labour in the world with about 520,000 employees. While UK has a population of about 64 million people, Germany is about 81 million and they are obviously countries with better and higher advancements in information technology.
Achieving this easy job creation opportunity in Nigeria is very possible due to the untapped opportunities and benefits that both the public and private sectors will get through the usage of postal service. What is required is the creation of about 1million post codes (addresses) in every state of Nigeria and then the detailed and convincing presentation of the inherent opportunities through which the demand and supply of postal services can be generated. With good understanding of the related issues, a more comprehensive national data can be created which will help security agencies in intelligence gathering and management. It will also enhance financial sector development and inclusion.
Interestingly, the jobs can be created with limited government expenditure. The government investment will be for the initial start-up especially the purchase of mail machines. To get the 250,000 people, NIPOST will be required to recruit about 6,750 people from every state and FCT. The jobs I am talking about are jobs that will guarantee at least N40, 000 every month for each employee. To ensure productivity, the monthly salary should be calculated and paid based on the actual number of hours worked by the employee with N200.00 suggested as a starting hourly wage.
To achieve a quick success, the Government will need to lead a robust engagement of the relevant agencies to encourage and ensure the enforcement of the relevant laws to generate about 10 million letters that must be delivered every day at the price of N100 for a normal first class letter (324 x229mm envelope). The target will be that all first class letters must be delivered within 48hrs of postage starting with all state capitals and FCT. This will translate to daily revenue of 1billion naira and about 26 billion every month excluding Sundays. It is a business with potential annual revenue of over N312billion. Using an average monthly wage of N40, 000 for each of the 250,000 potential employees will give a total monthly wage of about N10billion. This will give a balance of about N16 billion every month which can be used for operational and administrative costs, savings and revenue to the Federal Government possibly to pay back the initial set-up costs. Saving 10billion every month will give N120billion every year which can be used for other job creating ventures.
But the question is if it is possible and achievable. Yes it is and can be started by requiring both public and private corporations to comply with existing laws and the new ones to be created. For instance, the banks are required by law to send bank statements every month to their customers for every account held by the bank. As we have about 40 million bank accounts in Nigeria, this will give about 40 million letters every month to NIPOST. I am aware that the banks presently prefer to send electronic statements to customers and have almost phased out sending out paper statements except on special request. This should not be so and should be reversed with the customer allowed to choose between paper and electronic statements. The banks prefer the electronic form because of its cost saving benefits and their limited willingness to effectively contribute to our development and job creation efforts.
It should be made a law that every paid employee (private and public) in Nigeria should be sent a wage/payment slip or letter every month. I am not sure of the total number of Nigerians employed in both private and public sector but I am confident that this policy will create a further 50 million letters every month. As we have over 100 million mobile phone subscribers in Nigeria, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) should be given a target to get the Telecommunications companies to make about 50 million subscribers ‘a pay monthly contract packages’. This will require the telecommunications firms to send a breakdown of the bills to every of the 50million customers every month and as a result create additional 50 million letters every month for NIPOST.
Even though I don’t have the total number of shareholders in Nigeria, I am confident that this policy should be able to generate about 1million letters every month for NIPOST. Other ways through which letters can be generated for NIPOST include: All Universities, Secondary and Primary schools in Nigeria should be made to send the results of the students and other correspondences to the students’ parents by post. This should expectedly be able to generate about 2million letters every month.
The politicians especially the local, state and federal legislatures should be encouraged to communicate their activities and performances to their constituencies through post. I am very confident that given the nature of political competition in Nigeria, this will be very easy to stimulate and expectedly should have the potential of generating at least 10million letters every month for NIPOST. This is in addition to the opportunity for campaigning for elections through letters that this scheme will induce. I am sure that all the political parties and candidates will fiercely use the postal service to win votes and expectedly provide millions of letters to NIPOST. There are other ways to generate supply of letters for NIPOST but the idea is to have about 10 million letters delivered to different addresses every day in Nigeria. This should be the minimal target for the current or potential CEO (Post Master General) of NIPOST. It should be remembered if it is managed efficiently and robustly marketed to the Nigerian public, festivals like Christmas, New Year, Valentine, Democracy Day and other celebrated days and events will lead to further generation of letters for NIPOST. To ensure sustainable efficient management and profitability, NIPOST should be partly privatised after about 5 years of this restructured operation.
NIPOST will be required and given a 6 months target to create at least 50 million postal addresses with post codes. An idea will be for about 1 million postal addresses with post codes to be created from each state of the federation and FCT. This will give about 37 million addresses while the balance of 13 million shared among the big cities like Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Onitsha and Ibadan. While I appreciate the difficulties of effectively engaging about 250,000 employees in this sector, I am confident that it is very possible through the efficient management of further services that can be created from the demand and supply of letters.
For the collection, sorting and delivering of the letters, the idea will be to use a labour intensive management approach with limited machines. This will ensure the engagement of many of the 250,000 employees. In addition to the collection, sorting and delivering of letters, other services that can be provided include storage and safe-keeping services, haulage and distribution (including import and export) of light and heavy goods. Another very interesting area will be the provision of financial services and products especially to the poor and rural dwellers. As the postal service will reach every part of Nigeria (especially rural areas), provision of financial services through it will be an excellent way to promote financial inclusion and sustainable economic development.
Further, with a target to daily deliver about 10million letters, firms that can produce envelopes, stamps, rubber bands, jute bags, plastic boxes, delivery bags, uniforms and other ancillary products will emerge. This can be left for the private firms to produce but with a ban on the importation of the above products to support the local industries. The implication is that it will result in the emergence of firms that can produce about 300million first class stamps and envelopes every month for instance. I am confident that having firms with the capability and capacity to produce over 300million stamps and envelopes every month for instance in addition to the jute bags, rubber bands, plastic boxes, delivery bags and other complementary products will generate over 50,000 jobs. It should be remembered that all the employees will have to wear uniformed shoes and clothes, take transport, get accommodation and consume food and other services. All these will generate further employment.
The advancements in Information Technology will immensely help the opportunity and generate more letters and packages for the postal service. Provided it is efficiently managed, different kind of businesses will emerge such as foreign and local on-line shopping and deliveries, movement of goods (without movement of people) within and outside Nigeria. All the big courier companies in Nigeria are relishing the sudden jump in their revenues and business due to the emergence of Technology driven businesses like Jumia and Konga. United Parcel Service (UPS) with an annual revenue of $54.1 billion delivers about 15 million documents and packages every day and employs about 397, 100 people. While Indian Postal Service employs about 466,903 people, USA Postal Service employs about 626,764 people. It is the same excellent results and performances with other Postal Services of other developed and emerging economies with advanced Information Technology development such as Hong Kong, China, France, Spain, and Canada etc. Job creation is not that difficult!
Dr. Ngwu is a Senior Lecturer in Strategy, Finance and Risk Management, Lagos Business School and a Member, Expert Network, World Economic Forum.