Jobs for Youth in Africa

Jobs for Youth in Africa

“Youth unemployment in Africa is a much more serious problem than climate change and ought to be dealt with urgently.”

This was a strong statement spoken by Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary of the Africa Capacity Building Foundation, during the 5th Africa Think Tanks Summit held this April in Ghana. The event focused on the challenge of youth unemployment in Africa, and what think tanks could do to help address it.

Unlike most industrialized countries and even some industrializing countries like China, Africa comprises of a much younger population. Due to this, there is the potential of tremendous comparative advantage in the following years. This could help the continent move forward, defining it as a productive engine of growth in the world. Africa needs to shift to see a healthy and well-educated youth, more as a competitive and market opportunity to be promoted to investors rather than a social problem, hungry for public services to be supported by aid. Overall, for Africa to realize this advantage, it needs two things: investment to create the right jobs, and the young people with the skills to fill them.

The Youth Problem in Africa

Jobs for youth in Africa are a critical topic in their economy. Africa’s youth population is growing at a rapid rate and expect to double to over 830 million by 2050. Thus, now is the right time to invest in this population which would enhance the labour-force and allow for increased productivity, and stronger and more inclusive economic growth across the continent.

This led the African Development Bank Group to launch a Jobs for Youth in Africa (JFYA) Strategy in 2016. This strategy is planned from 2016-2025. The ultimate goal of the strategy is to create 25 million jobs for African youth and to equip 50 million youth with a mix of soft and hard skills to increase their employability.

Furthermore, this aligns with Goal 4 of the UN Sustainable Development goals of: Quality Education.Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Major progress has been made in access to education, specifically at the primary school level, for both boys and girls. Still, at least 22 million children in 43 countries will miss out on pre-primary education unless the rate of progress doubles.

What can be done now?

Currently, the bank is developing the “Enabling Youth Employment scorecard” to track the state of youth employment in countries across Africa, identify the barriers youth face in finding quality work, and provide sustainable solutions to unleashing the economic potential of youth. Through evidence-based research, the scorecard will provide decision-makers with policy recommendations to increase employment opportunities for youth.

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