Youth Unemployment in Africa

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Below is an excerpt from an article entitled “How to Tackle Youth Unemployment in Africa,” first appearing in Pambazuka News. To read the full article, click here

When people say, “creating jobs for the youth” or “tackling youth unemployment in Africa”, it is not clear if everyone who says that knows what they really mean or if they know how it can be achieved. I bet it is not an easy endeavour to create jobs for all African young people using the current economic models we see in Africa.

It was not my first time to see hundreds of young Ethiopian women at the waiting hall of Bole International Airport, just a few minutes away from taking their first flights to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Lebanon in search for employment. All these young Ethiopian women leave their country with high hopes of better living conditions and a bright future for them and their families. For a country like Ethiopia that is the second most populous in Africa, it can be a challenging endeavour to find employment for its population that some estimates place at more than 100 million people; most of them being young people as it is the case in the rest of Africa. However, I wonder if it can still be difficult to employ all African people if the whole African continent approached the issue of youth unemployment as a first priority.

One of the reasons why African countries are not able to provide employment for their young people is that they employ economic models that they neither understand nor control. Africa needs its own economic models to tackle its economic issues including the need to create jobs for its people, especially the youth. Some economic activities done in Africa are designed to satisfy needs of other continents and not to serve the wellbeing of African people.

Young people who are tempted to leave Africa to other continents are not just leaving their continent in search of employment; they are also hoping to be able to easily access, in Asia, Europe, North America and in the Middle East, basic needs such as food, education, decent shelter and housing. African countries should design their economic models in such a way that economic services are able to provide these basic needs so that “no one is left behind” in the journey to prosperity.

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Image credits: AFP – Kenzo Tribouillard