The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) in Ivory Coast, Akinwumi Adesina, has launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) to provide insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth.
In a statement on Tuesday, AfDB said the "Jobs for Youth in Africa" initiative aims at creating 25-million jobs and impact 50-million youth over the next 10 years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs. It is the largest effort going for youth employment in Africa today.
The PYAG, inaugurated on the sidelines of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan on Monday will work with the bank to create jobs for Africa’s youth.
“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20% annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500-million (R 6.8-billion) per year for the next thirty years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55% every year to the year 2050,” said Adesina at the inauguration of the group.
Adesina, who identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth, observed that out of the 13-million youths that enter the labour market each year, only 3-million (about 33% of African youth) are in wage employment. The rest are underemployed or in vulnerable employment.
The annual gap of more than 8-million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800-million in the next decades.
“Africa’s rapidly growing population of youths can give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges. Africa’s youths, though strong and dynamic, cross the desert or the Mediterranean sea because they do not find decent jobs in Africa. Graduates are wandering in the streets, jobless," Adesina said.
The low level of employment opportunities was also fuelling violence and extremism in Africa. “Forty percent of African youths engaged in armed violence join gangs or terrorist groups because of limited opportunities in their countries.”
He added that 66-million African youths earn less than $2 (R 27.55) a day, less than the price of a hamburger. “Sixty six million is eight times the size of Switzerland, six times the size of Belgium, the same size as UK, France or Italy, and 80% of Germany’s population,” he said.
On the rationale behind the setting up of the advisory group, Adesina explained: “We recognise 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 said.
PYAG comprises nine members under the age of 40 from African countries who have made significant contributions to the creation of employment opportunities for African youth.