Creating employment for young people in Africa – By Chofor Che, 19 September 2013

A Declaration of Intent was signed at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in early September 2013, between the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union Commission (AUC), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

In an article published on the 14th of September 2013 by BizTechAfrica, a social network specialised in African affairs especially in the ICT sector, the signing ceremony commenced with a word from the AU Commissioner of Social Affairs Dr. Mustapha S. Kaloko who stressed on the importance of this accord in furnishing a united platform via which youth employment in Africa can be enhanced.

The declaration imputes on each of the above international organisations to create employment opportunities for boosting youth development and empowerment in Africa. According to BizTechAfrica, the Joint Youth Employment Initiative for Africa (JYEIA) necessitates that the above mentioned four international organisations should focus on knowledge production, policy-level intervention and direct intervention.

According to the declaration, the African Union is obliged to ‘advocate, promote, and monitor the implementation of the Declaration on Employment Promotion and Poverty Alleviation, which was enacted during the Extraordinary Summit of African Heads of State and Government in Burkina Faso in September 2004.

This again is another feeble declaration which adds to numerous failed declarations signed by international organisations. Instead of boosting markets and small and medium size industries on the continent, international organisations like the ADB and the UN have decided to continue signing declarations of no consequences. Such declarations make no sense if African central governments do not adhere to them. In fact, holding meetings and signing such declarations is a waste of time and tax payers’ money.

Africa needs more than declarations. The human capital base of Africans, especially the youths, needs to be orientated towards production and not consumption especially of products from the West. African youths need to be introduced to business initiatives which project more of South-South cooperation. Entrepreneurial skills need to be inculcated in African youths.

The private sector in Africa remains porous. Instead of signing such accords and giving financial aid to African states, which eventually ends up in foreign bank accounts, it is germane for such organisations like the ADB, the ILO and the UN to rethink their strategy of ensuring that the African youth are part and parcel of Africa’s renaissance. Creating business and trade partnerships between youths in Africa and those in the diaspora could be a way to go. Encouraging youth to be involved in local government is another avenue which has not been exploited. This brings to question the collaborative role of the state in Africa in ensuring that such declarations geared towards youth employment reach fruition. African states need to see their youth as the future and work collaboratively with them in ensuring that Africa attains full potential. The educational system embraced from colonial masters need to be quashed completely and an educational system founded on entrepreneurial development and growth adopted. These are ways which if well thought through and implemented, may be beneficial to Africa’s youth.

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