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Nigeria—Country Workforce Profile

by Ngozi Onyejeli

July 2010—Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the eighth most populous country in the world. One of the world's largest producers of crude oil, Nigeria is heavily dependent on its crude oil export, contributing to growth rates of 9.0% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009. Oil exports account for over half of federal government revenue and over 90% of export earnings, but these revenues have traditionally been squandered through rampant corruption and mismanagement. Nigeria has had the highest external debt among regionally comparative countries, through the years with a peak in 2005 at 8.82 billion.


  • The agricultural sector is still the largest employer in the country; and
  • 70.9% of men and 74.8% of women in the total civilian employed labor force report being self-employed.

The Nigerian workforce exhibits high levels of gender inequality:

  • Nigeria has one of the lowest rates of employed women, as percent of the total population, among selected countries with similar gross national income; and
  • The highest percentage of men in the workforce is among those aged 45-49 (99.2%) compared to just 67% of women in this same age group.


  • The total fertility rate for Nigerian women from 2005-2010 was 5.3 children per woman;
  • The life expectancy at birth for the Nigerian population in 2009 was 46.9 years (46.2 for men and 47.8 for women); and
  • 41.5% of the total population of Nigeria is between 0-14 years, 55.5% are between 15-64 years, while 3.1% are aged 65+.

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