30 November 2010
by Alison Moloney
Fashion might appear to be an unlikely purveyor of social change for a country such as Nigeria but the career opportunities that this industry offers could provide its young generation with much needed employment.
A recent report, commissioned by the British Council, reveals the precarious social and economic situation which Nigeria faces over the next twenty years. With its ‘baby boom’ generation on the cusp of entering employment Nigeria will be one of the few countries with a young workforce in copious supply. Currently oil contributes 40% of national GDP but employs only 0.15% of the population.
Job creation, improvements in education and health standards alongside the recent economic growth could ensure a stable future for the country and this young generation. However, as the report states: 'If Nigeria fails to plan for its next generation, it faces ethnic and religious conflict and radicalization, as a result of growing numbers of young people frustrated by a lack of jobs and opportunities.’
The British Council, Lagos is developing an ambitious arts programme for the next three years and has invited Advisers from Arts Group London to conduct scoping visits of the arts and creative industries in the city.
During my visit to Lagos to meet with practitioners within the fashion industry it was clear that, although in its infancy, fashion in Lagos is burgeoning with a crop of emerging young designers who are sensitive to local cultures but who have international ambitions. This combined with the complex history and trade routes of the Ankara fabrics, which so vividly illuminate the landscape, and the distinct sense of self-presentation makes for compelling material to develop a rich programme of events.