By Asmau Ahmad
The International Labour Orgnisation (ILO) on Monday commended Africa for stepping up its social protection policy.
Mrs Cynthia Samuel-Olajuwon, the ILO Regional Director for Africa, gave the commendation while speaking with journalists in Geneva, Switzerland.
She said that one of the very significant achievements of the ILO in Africa has been in the area of social protection.
According to her, social protection in Africa as at 2019, 2020 when I had the privilege of being in Nigeria for the launch of the report of “The Global Social Protection Report, was 17.2 or 17.4per cent, the lowest in the continent.
“This is even in terms of statistics; we only have statistics for 17 countries.
“Recognising that if we do not address social protection, and this came out with COVID, we will not be able to improve the resilience of our population.
“We will not be able to lift people out of poverty and definitely will not be able to achieve the SDGs, so we came up with a strategy on promoting social protection in Africa.
“This is with the view and the goal, yes, ambitious goal of doubling the figure and moving from 17 to 40 per cent by 2025,” she said.
She added that just a few years from now, since that time, what have we done? The number of countries for which we have data, which was 17 in 2019, has increased to 37.
Samuel-Olajuwon also said she hoped that by the end of the year’s survey, the countries participating would have reached 54.
“Particularly for example, Nigeria has already started moving the needle, their health insurance policy has been adopted in terms of every data,” she added.
The Regional Director also listed some other key things that were prioritised by the ILO to include, addressing informality and creating decent work in the rural space and labour protection issues around skills development.
She said others are to see how the ILO can use technological pathways to facilitate skills development, enterprise development in Just Transitions in looking at the entire gamut of standards.
She added that this was both in terms of ratification and implementation with a special emphasis on issues related to women and child labour.
“Then of course, to social dialogue, I am just highlighting some of the key areas, there are several areas and if you look at even some of the decisions for the 111 ILC apprenticeship this is within the context of skilled and labour protection.
“This is within the context of what has already been articulated and of course, the issues around standards and different aspects of social dialogue,” she said.
Samuel-Olajuwon, while speaking on Nigeria been elected as the Chair of the Governing Body of the Organisation, said that the election was in recognition of the capacity of Africa.
She added that this is specifically for Nigeria, to be able to help to steer the ship of the ILO.
She described the time of Nigeria’s leadership at the ILO as apt “especially after the very important 111th conference that was recently concluded.
According to her, there is absolute great endorsement of the Global Coalition for social justice, which is an important initiative of the Director General, Mr Gilbert Houngbo.
“In this essence of the global coalition of social justice, is to make sure that issues related to social development and social justice are at the same level or receive the same level of attention as economic issues and environmental issues.
“It is a key way as indicated by the Secretary General of the United Nations to ensure that we accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Nigeria has the responsibility to help translate the commitment and decisions reached at the ILC to the rest of the world.
“Nigeria’s election as the Chair of the ILO Governing Body for the next one year will also help to ensure that the country and the continent play a significant role in moving the agenda of the organisation forward,” she said.