Three Considerations on Nigeria’s Human Capital



The world has developed only 62% of its human capital, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 report on Global Human Capital.

The 2017 report on Global Human Capital assessed 130 countries in the world, based on twenty-one indicators, grouped into four dimensions: Capacity, Deployment, Development and Know-How.

Capacity measures the attainment rate for Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education, while Development considers the enrolment rates, as well as the quality of primary schools, quality of education training, skill diversity of graduates and extent of staff training among other indicators. The Deployment is based on indicators on employment, unemployment and underemployment rates, while Know-How “concerns the breadth and depth of specialized skills used at work”.

The data shows that “nations are neglecting or wasting, on average, 38% of their talent” and that not more than 25 nations “have tapped 70% of their people’s human capital or more”. 14 countries are below 50%, meaning they are currently leveraging below half of their human capital.

Nigeria is barely using half of its human capital with a rating of 51.06%, ranking at 114 out of the 130 nations.

So many questions revolving around the indicators will need to be attended to if Nigeria’s human capital is ever to attain development. At this time, three considerations particularly come to mind:

First of all, “a more educated population is better prepared to adapt to new technologies, innovate and compete on a global level”. Tech enthusiasts like Azuka Okoye have continued to stress the idea of a ‘tech ecosystem’ remains non-existent in Nigeria as long as there is no intellectual foundation in the country’s Universities and research institutes; the WEF report very much stresses this. The report states specificaly that “index leaders are high-income economies with a longstanding commitment to their people’s educational attainment, and that have placed correspondingly high importance on building their future human capital potential and deployed a broad share of their workforce in skill-intensive occupations across a broad range of sectors.”

And this is just beyond the funding of schools; the course contents of most programmes in Nigerian Universities will need to be radically revised if Nigeria is to begin to play catch-up with other developed and better developing economies. As the report states; “Many of today’s education systems are already disconnected from the skills needed to function in today’s labour markets and the exponential rate of technological and economic change is further increasing the gap between education and labour markets.”


This goes beyond what students are learning from their tutors in class; what other skills are they acquiring on their own? The recent story from one of the nation’s top campuses is of a student apparently parleying with the monument of a former Vice Chancellor. The 21st century certainly provides much more tools for self-development and access to loads of resources for versatility to the modern youth than any other age, meaning there are actually fewer excuses for ignorance today. Mindful that the means of accessing these materials, through affordability and democracy, remain a challenge, young people in the age of artificial intelligence must know that the microchip, as an innovation, is now closer to the Stone Age than it is to the generation of their children.


The eastern African nation is the best ranked from Sub Saharan Africa (71 overall) on the Human Capital report, adding more glory to the progress that has been reported over the past years from Paul Kagame’s administration. Rwanda’s recovery from the harrowing experience of 1994 has made their turnaround of particular interest to development students, even if questions remain as to the freedom of the people under Mr Kagame’s regime. Ghana, a more democratic entity, is the next best ranked (72) and it’s no surprise that Nigerian students have found it a convenient escape from the frustrations from home. Will the Nigerian Government substantially step up in its Education plan before Igbos out-number Hutus at the University of Kigali?!

Below are some stats from the report:
• The Top Four on the rankings: Norway, Finland, Switzerland and United States
• Ranks on Capacity: Krygyz Rep, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Russia (Nigeria’s rank: 100)
• Ranks on Deployment: Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Cambodia (Nigeria’s rank: 66)
• Ranks on Development: Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands and United States (Nigeria’s rank: 126)
• Ranks on Know-How: Switzerland, Finland, Sweden and Singapore (Nigeria’s rank: 122)
• In terms of the availability of skilled employees, Norway ranks first in the world, followed by Singapore.

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