Youth unemployment in Africa, whom to blame?

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Unemployment

Do the African governments establish any national plans to confront the economic crisis facing their youth? Are Africans in Diaspora a forgotten element of the African economic development?

Who should be blamed? The foreign colonization? The African governments? Or the youth themselves?

One of the biggest challenges facing governments in Africa is providing employment opportunities for more than 200 million young people so that they can have decent lives and contribute to the social and economic development of their countries.

Actually Africa has the fastest population growth predictable between now and 2050 and the youngest population in the world. It is decisive that governments react towards this youth growth into national and social development planning.

Youth employment challenges in Africa are most of the time perceived as a result of rapid population growth rates, and then it becomes hard to control and to correspond to all the needs. Actually, it is not the numbers of young people that has led unemployment, but lack of specific structural strategic planning where it should meet the needs of every individual country. It is not possible to apply the same plan confrontation of economic problems to all African countries, since every country has its specific characteristics and needs, African governments need to inspire from example models but implement it within the conditions and the priorities of their home countries.

It is true that a growing youth population is a challenge for Africa today, but it cannot be the reason behind the unemployment figures in Africa. These figures are largely the results of specific economic and political behaviors. Like for example: lack of investments in infrastructure and enhancing sectors with potential for creating jobs, lack of evaluating and developing policies on economic growth in Africa, lack of investing in rural areas and rural youth.

One of the biggest losses of Africa today, is the lack of communicating and investing in youth in the Diaspora, youth Diaspora is outstandingly situated to contribute to boosting the economic growth and prosperity in Africa, and they bring a unique point of views to the discourse on Africa because they have experienced both worlds. They often choose to stay in their host countries because of the lack of not only investing on them, but also lack of decent jobs and complexity of procedures to implement their projects that would lead to economic growth, which in the other hand easier in their host countries, by that Africa loses a rich contributor element and call for professional foreign help.

Levels of education in Africa are moderately low creating a suitable skills gap among youth at working age. This generates lack of skills meeting the needs of the job market.

Though young people today are better educated than their parents, they remain about twice as likely to be unemployed than their elders. This is partially because of a divergence between their skills and what the work market is seeking for.

The African Development Bank estimated that 25% of African youths are still illiterate and even though a rise in primary school enrolment, the lack of skills levels in the workforce will continue to be a crucial problem facing Africa, unless African governments start to develop educational strategy that meet the job market.

In fact, there are some initiatives launched to confront this issue, for example in Senegal, there is an initiative called the Agence d’Exécution des Travaux d’Intéret Public, where unemployed youth are trained before getting permanent jobs. In Burkina Faso, through a project, student attend school and at the same time work as trainee to learn industry specific skills.

Nonetheless, with increasing numbers of youth population, these few initiatives aren’t able enough to face the unemployment issue and the difficulties that come with it.

We often hear that the lack of development in Africa is due to the colonization effects, well many countries of the world have been colonized but moved on, including developing countries, sometimes I think Africans are colonized in their minds when they keep holding the idea of blaming the current situation on history colonization even though there might be an effect, but our concern is to find out solutions and to move forward, make a development not as a desire but as an action. Africans need to look on the future and stop looking back on the past.

The relationship between population and youth unemployment is very complicated. As populations increase, concentrated efforts are needed to be done to avoid the youth exclusion from work market and lack of economic growth. To do this, African countries need to address the economic growth issues through transformative economic and social policies.

It is our duties as individual as well to find solutions, to contribute in an innovative way to develop our communities and countries, it always starts with oneself.

As Socrates said: “THE SECRET OF CHANGE lS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD BUT ON BUILDING THE NEW”.

Sana AFOUAIZ

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International Youth Conference-Youth in Diaspora, a means to support development

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Meet the President of “VAS” Mr. Youssouf:

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The “International Youth Conference: Youth in Diaspora, a means to support development” was organized by VAS Austria from 22-24 October 2014 in Vienna, in collaboration with UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and the partnership of Austrian Development Cooperation/Agency (ADA).

The Conference was the first of its kind held in Europe and presents an undeniable opportunity for African leaders and Ambassadors, diplomats, foreign policy & development experts and UN officials to work closely together and coordinate international dialogue amongst important stakeholders for African development, which will produce real benefits for young Africans in terms of entrepreneurship and sustainable development of the region.

Participants benefited from different trainings, workshops, and got the chance to be presidents of Africans countries in the Model of African Union, an opportunity that led them to discover about African countries that they didn’t know before, and exercise the same duty as leaders which is the decision making and speaking out in the name of the citizens.

An important session in the event was dedicated to understand the opportunities and the challenges facing Africa in creating decent jobs for its youth.

The experts discussed the definition of decent job, its characteristic and the role the diaspora can play in the development of jobs in Africa and Europe.

Mr. Charles Dan, the International Labor Organization Representative, mentioned that in the last years many young men and women were rated unemployed, this crisis touched Africa in a very critical way. In sub-Saharan countries, finding jobs it is just another challenging story that faces young Africans.

Mr. Charles said: “In Africa we don’t have a decent job; we strive for jobs with quality. Decent jobs are based on quality and respect and promotion of the international standards and guaranteeing insurance security”

What do we need to do to have a better rate of job creation in Africa?

Mr. Charles insists on the necessity to launch developed economic policies and make these policies a priority, invest in the economic strategies is the only way to create jobs in Africa.

In the other hand, Africans in Diaspora most of the time don’t return to their home countries because of the lack of getting decent jobs, the lack of experienced professionals pushes Africa to look for foreign people for work. Investing in providing decent jobs for African Diaspora is a crucial.

Africa is missing a clear and well-organized methodology to address the issue of employment among Africans; Africa needs to start with this to confront this issue.

Africans need to be provided by loans, opportunities of entrepreneurship and companies ownership, Africans need to be trained to be competent which will make Africa rely on itself instead of asking foreign help, also gender equality orientation and protection should be ensured. Communication and connection between Africa and the diaspora is very important for the development of business in the region.

Mr. Djibril Coulibaly, United Nations Industrial Development Organization Representative, believes that the question on how to achieve job creation opportunities is related to the level of commitment and investments that African leaders show towards this issue, he insists on the need for practical actions instead of continuous political speeches, the real work in the reality.

The question of creation of jobs is a problem of all countries, especially the sub Saharan countries, each year Africa ends up with 11 million of young people who join the job market, but the question do we have this job market?

Mr. Djibril Coulibaly invites Africa to think about the necessity of providing satisfied jobs and not only remunerable jobs where Africans can improve their knowledge and creativity.

While Mr. Jesse Ojbor, UNIDO Representative, insists on the importance of Africans in Diaspora in bring out global jobs connections opportunities into Africa, which will boost the international economy of the region.

He highlighted also the definition of youth age that differs from a country to another in Africa which influences the vision of providing jobs for youth. He stressed on the fact that Africans today can play a brain drain and a brain gain role. In fact, he believes that Africans wherever they are, they can help in the economic development of their countries, he gave an illustrative example of an African who sends money to his mom and who uses it in an entrepreneurship project of hers, which in the other side helps in shifting the economic situation of his country.

Mr. Malick Sy, UNIDO Senegal Representative, invites the African governments to provide their youth with quality education, trainings and work experiences, and then Africa won’t need foreign professionals.

Mr. Malick believes that public and private sector need to work together for the development of the region, by that coordinating strategies and efforts.

Mr. Mohamed Yahya Murad, Board Member of Bahrain Voluntary Work Society, shared his experience to empower youth employment in Bahrain through his project “Tamkin”, that provides financial and advisory aid to meet the needs of the Bahraini youth, and lead them to meet the economic vision of the country.

The event was a successful beneficial for the Youth from Africa and Europe, as many of them shared their hunger to make change once they get back home, because they believe that it is time for action.

Sana AFOUAIZ