African Union Commission partners with international organisations in order to confront the problem of growing youth unemployment in Africa
| By Vincent Nzemeke | Sep. 30, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
YOUTH unemployment is one of the most common problems facing many African countries today. As a result, leaders and stakeholders across the continent are always looking for ways to tackle the problem. As part of efforts to address the challenge of youth unemployment in the continent, the African Union commission, AUC, in collaboration with the African Development Bank, AfDB, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, and the International Labour Organisation, ILO, recently signed a declaration of intent for a Joint Initiative on Youth Employment in Africa, JYEIA.
The signing ceremony took place on Thursday, September 12, at the headquarters of the AUC in Addis Ababa. It is a response by the partner organisations to the call by African heads of state and government at their summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in July 2011 for a more decisive way of tackling youth unemployment in the continent. It is also a follow-up to the 2004 Ouagadougou declaration and action plan.
At the ceremony were the partnering organisations represented by Mustapha Kaloko, AUC’s commissioner for Social Affairs; Lamin Barrow, AfDB’s resident representative in Ethiopia; and Hans Hofmeijer, ILO’s acting Africa regional director, Minata Samate, Ambassador of Burkina Faso to Ethiopia as well as officials of the Regional Economic Communities and members of the public.
Through JYEIA, these organisations will provide financial support and technical expertise that will in turn promote youth employment at country, sub-regional and continental levels. The initiative will also focus on its interventions on three main areas, namely policy support; design and implementation of programs and projects; knowledge-building and dissemination.
In his remarks Barrow, recalled that the 2012 African Economic Outlook, which was devoted to the theme of youth employment, underscored the urgent need for governments to pursue an integrated strategy in order for African countries to translate the “youth bulge” in their populations into a “demographic dividend”.
Barrow reminded the audience of the bank’s continued commitment to assist its regional member countries promote youth employment which can be achieved through initiatives like JYEI through the synergy and coordination of the four organisations involved in the partnership.
He also cited examples of recent bank initiatives that can be replicated or scaled-up in Africa. These include the Souk At-tanmia initiative for young entrepreneurs in Tunisia; the provision matching grants for enhancing employability of young graduates in Morocco; the skills employability and entrepreneurship programme in Rwanda; and the Pan African University centre of excellence project developed under the auspices of the AUC.
For Kaloko, the progress recorded in Burkina Faso and Senegal, where there have been start-up activities, is a clear indication that JYEI can produce the desired results. He also expressed optimism that the challenge of competing resources for member states would be surmounted in taking forward the implementation of the JYEI.
Hofmeijer, who also spoke on behalf of the ILO, reiterated the need for home-grown solutions for promoting employment for the continent’s growing young population. He added that the Initiative would adopt a framework approach rather than a one-size-fits-all in developing its support program.