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Nigeria: fancy a MINT?

A recent report has suggested potential growth in Africa over the next five to ten years at comparative figures to those recently seen in China and India. However, as readers will be aware all is not well within the Indo-China arena with signs of stagnation and increased levels of unemployment.

It is fair to say that due to geo-political issues the labour market in Africa is non-uniform and in many ways in a state of flux.

Certainly, the region has an abundance of cheap labour, land mass and minerals which are there to be exploited but it is harnessing that labour market and ensuring that it is structured and capable of sustained growth that is the puzzling question.

Nigeria has been heavily tipped to be a new market leader and reports at the turn of the year suggested that it would potentially overtake South Africa as the regional economic hegemon. Nigeria has been bracketed in such illustrious company as Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey (hence the MINTs). The question is whether the MINTs can challenge the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) in achieving a level of sustained economic growth.

The agricultural, aviation and banking sector in Nigeria has flourished of late and there is potential growth in new technologies, however, the labour market may still need some fine tuning in relation to the employment laws in operation to generate sustained growth.

Nigerian labour does have the right to have freedom of association but collective bargaining is largely unregulated. There is no general duty to inform and consult employees bar in regard to redundancies. Furthermore, there is a great deal of flexibility regarding termination options for employers. The majority of claims are in relation to non-payment of notice or discrimination claims but otherwise employers have latitude to dismiss. Although there are health and safety regulations, there are no statutory normal working hours or maximum working hours and no real regulation regarding part time working or specific protection regarding fixed term working. Finally, there is no automatic transfer of employment between companies in the same way as one would see under the TUPE regulations.

This makes for a flexible labour relations model but that’s not to say that it may be the best way for sustaining economic growth. It is fair to say that Africa has at times been a political football for economic models which has not served it well and, individual nation states need to find their own way in ensuring that economic growth is sustainable.

However, it remains to be seen whether this flexible labour relations model will be able to sustain growth. Some lessons may need to be learnt from its fellow MINT stable mates to ensure that development is not just a flash in the pan.

Matthew Yates Partner

Co-Lead Global Labour Law Unit

matthew.yates@dwf.co.uk

David Gibson

Co-Lead Global Labour Law Unit

david.gibson@dwf.co.uk

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Legal news, views, trends and tools for HR Professionals. Stay ahead. Go further