A recent report has revealed that Nigeria’s construction industry is losing $4.5 billion annually to foreign artisans from Togo, Ghana, Benin Republic and Cameroon. The report also stated that over 10 million artisans are required in the market, and that the construction sector requires trained human beings for practical work on project sites. Nigeria’s construction industry has an estimated market size of between $26.9 billion and $40.3 billion and accounts for nine per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, Nigeria’s construction industry is currently faced with a dearth of skilled artisans and technicians, making it difficult to grow the numbers needed to sustain the industry.

The President of the Association of Building Artisans of Nigeria (ASBAN), Jimmy Oshinubi, said that the shortage of local artisans is not the issue, but rather those who employ them prefer foreign artisans. Oshinubi said, “some site engineers believe that artisans are tools for them and forget that artisans are also professionals…you cannot lay blocks by yourself.” He went on to say that there is a blueprint that ASBAN plans to prepare and submit to the incoming administration at the federal level on the need to encourage local artisans by giving them jobs rather than turning them to Okada riders.

The Chairman, Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON), Dr. Samson Opaluwah, said that the dearth of artisans in the industry is as a result of structural failure in the nation’s educational system, which has led to a collapse of technical education. He said that Nigeria had a system that produced artisans, tradesmen, technicians, and technologists from pre-independence till the First Republic. The institutions train every level of manpower needed on the construction site. However, when Nigeria adopted the 6-3-3-4 system of education, the technical schools and polytechnics were neglected, and the universities became the only ones seen as important.

The construction industry is an important subsector of the economy that can reduce the high unemployment rate, which is estimated to hit 41 per cent this year, according to multinational consulting firm KPMG in its recently released report for H1 2023.