The African Development Bank (AfDB) renewed its commitment to promote employment in Africa as a way to combat poverty.
Job creation, competition and growth constitute the main axes identified by the bank to develop human capital in the continent.
According to a report issued by AfDB, youth represent 60 per cent of total unemployment in the region; young people in Africa are mostly underemployed and engage in low productive jobs in the informal economy; 90 per cent of jobs created in the region are in the informal sector as demonstrated by the International Labour Organisation estimates.
By 2040, Africa will have the largest workforce in the world; it also harbours the youngest population of the world according to CIA World Fact-book data, this large “youth bulge” is a risk factor for the continent, but can also represent an opportunity for change, progress and social dynamism if the talents of the youth are channelled to the productive sectors of the economy.
A comprehensive strategy was put forward to achieve this goal; it includes offering support to high education (scientific and technological) and vocational training, developing links between school and the labour market, creating regional centres of excellence following the model of Carnegie Mellon in Rwanda, also the African Virtual University that has a wide platform comprising more than thirty universities.
The plan also considered providing support to regional initiatives targeting the mobility of skilled persons, strengthening women’s participation in education and employment opportunities and supporting mediation programs between jobs supply and demand.
This strategy was discussed by many stakeholders from North Africa who convened in Casablanca on the first and second of November to express the views of their countries and organisations on the document drafted by the AfDB.
Egyptian economist and professor at Ain Shams University Noha El-Demery said that the problem is not only unemployment, but the inequality of access to the labour market; she clarified that not all the youth have equal chances of getting employed, thus the strategy should deal with “employability” and not only employment.
The education chief economist at AfDB Morocco Mohamed Gueye outlined the partnership launched between the Bank, the African Union, the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa and the International Labour Organisation (ILO); an initiative aiming at increasing and improving the youth employment in Africa by including it in national and regional policies, operating already existing job creation programsand knowledge creation for better intervention. The long term partnership (2011-2050) is divided into five year phases and will be subject of revision and evaluation, it will cover eventually the whole continent but only 10 countries will be selected for a pilot period in the coming three to five years.
The workshop on employment was concluded by issuing recommendations that should be used as guidelines for AfDB’s action in this field; namely the matching between firms and education centres, the sensitisation of trainers, improving the work value and the initiative culture, working on the employment elasticity of growth and developing risk capital.
In response to a comment raised by Daily News Egypt, the moderator of the session Dr Adel Ben Youssef added a recommendation concerning the use of “social capital” as a means to “employability.”