The African Development Bank (AfDB) may have opened a fresh vista of hope on the solution to the lingering youth unemployment sweeping across the continent, as it commissions an advisory group.
Tagged: “Presidential Youth Advisory Group” (PYAG), the members would work to provide insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth, as outlined in the bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (JfYA) initiative.
JfYA was scripted to create 25 million jobs and benefit 50 million youth over the next 10 years, an average of five million youths in the continent yearly, by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs.The initiative is currently, assessed as the largest effort ongoing for youth employment in Africa.
AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, who inaugurated the group on the sidelines of the just concluded 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, assured that the bank will work with the members to create jobs for Africa’s youth.
“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10 to 20 per cent annual growth. That means Africa’s Gross Domestic Product will grow by $500 billion per year for the next 30 years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55 per cent every year to the year 2050,” he said.
He identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth, but observed that out of the 13 million youths that enter the labour market each year, only three million are in wage employment, while the rest are underemployed or in vulnerable employment.According to him, the yearly gap of more than eight million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800 million in the next decades.
“Africa has an unemployment crisis among its youth,” he stressed, noting that unless employment opportunities are created for them, Africa’s rapidly growing population of youths can give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges.It is now on record that Africa’s youths, though strong and dynamic, cross the desert or the Mediterranean Sea because they do not find decent jobs in Africa, with graduates wandering in the streets.
But the bank chief also said the low level of employment opportunities is also fueling violence and extremism in Africa, adding: “40 per cent of African youths engaged in armed violence join gangs or terrorist groups because of limited opportunities in their countries.”
“66 million African youths earn less than $2 a day- less than the price of a hamburger. 66 million is eight times the population of Switzerland, six times the population of Belgium, the same as that of the UK, France or Italy, and 80 per cent of Germany’s population,” he added.
The advisory group comprises nine members under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the creation of employment opportunities for African youth.They are: CEO, Mara Group, Uganda, Ashish Thakkar, as Chair; an award-winning author from Nigeria, Uzodinma Iweala; Founder/CEO, Africa 2.0/Ubuntu Capital, Cameroon, Mamadou Touré; and Director, Gender Women and Civil Society Department, Chad, Vanessa Moungar.
Others are the President, Panafrican Youth Union, Democratic Republic of Congo, Francine Muyumba; Co-founder, Andela, USA, Jeremy Johnson; CEO, Hehe, Rwanda, Clarisse Iribagiza; CEO, Agrolay Ventures, Nigeria, Ada Osakwe; and CEO of Java Foods, Zambia, Monica Musonda.
“We recognize the enormous amount of energy, creative and innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial excellence that many of our youth bring to the table.
“For this reason, the Bank must ensure that it is well advised by cutting-edge youth representatives on its policies, actions and programmes, for the benefit of Africa’s youth.
“The members of the Presidential Youth Advisory Group are expected to actively engage private sector partners, government leaders, civil society, donor partners, and other stakeholders; and support the significant amount of work that the Bank is already doing and promoting across the continent through its Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy,” Adesina added.
Responding, Chair of the Advisory Group, Thakkar, said: “It is a great honour to serve our continent in this function. We know that the stakes are high, but we are committed to the task of creating flourishing youth businesses that provide tremendous value.
“We are also focused on facilitating the achievement of AfDB’s High 5s and Sustainable Development Goals. We have just concluded our work programme for the next year and have hit the ground running.”