President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) on November 27, 2017 to provide ideas and solutions for creating jobs for young people in Africa.
In line with the AfDB initiative `Jobs for young people in Africa’, the group aims to create 25 million jobs and help 50 million young people to find employment over the next 10 years by teaching them the necessary skills to get suitable, sustainable jobs.
Young African leaders will be given the opportunity to advise on and develop solutions on accelerating the creation of formal employment and entrepreneurship roles.
The Bank’s President said that the energy and entrepreneurial excellence of young people are fundamental to affecting change in policies, actions and programmes in Africa.
The Bank has partnered with the International Labour Organisation to strengthen the African countries’ capacity to synchronise their respective youth employment policies.
The initiative’s deployment will be operated and financed by the Multidonor Trust Fund for Innovation and Youth Entrepreneurship, with grants from Denmark and Norway totalling US$4.4 million.
The AfDB has also developed the `Enabling Youth Employment’ index to measure youth employment outcomes and encourage countries to adopt employment incentive policies.
A priority for the group will be to make agriculture more appealing to young people.
Last year, the AfDB invested $800 million in 8 countries to support young agricultural entrepreneurs, which will expand to reach 15 countries by 2018.
The AfDB has plans to invest $1.5 billion per year over the next decade.
Adesina called on heads of government, private sector and donor partners, civil society and other stakeholders to support such creativity and innovation.
He noted that of the 13 million young people that join the labour market a year, only 3 million earn an adequate wage to sustain themselves, with the other 67% forced into unreliable work or underemployment.
According to the President, 66 million young Africans earn less than $2 a day.
The number of youth in Africa is predicted to double to more than 800 million in the next two to three decades, increasing the job deficit.
The lack of employment opportunities currently leads to mass migration and homelessness, and also fuels violence and extremism, with 40% of youth members of gangs or terrorist groups taking up arms due to the limited options available to them, according to Adesina.
He warned that unless employment opportunities were offered to alleviate the crisis, the rapid youth population growth could present significant problems for African countries’ economic, social, security and political stability.
The PYAG has nine members all under the age of 40 who have contributed to youth employment, including its Chair, founding CEO of the Mara Group and Ugandan national Ashish Thakkar.
Thakkar said that the work programme for the next year had been completed and would focus on realising the AfDB’s High 5 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
He added: "It is a great honour for me to serve our continent in this role.
"I borrowed $ 5,000 to start my business without support of any kind.
“Today, the Mara Group has 14,000 employees worldwide.
“I was alone, so imagine what we could do with the support of an institution like the African Development Bank.”
Fellow group member and Nigerian entrepreneur Ada Osakwe said: "40% of entrepreneurs in Nigeria are women, but 73% of them operate in retail systems.
“We need to address this and provide young people with better paying jobs."
Adesina said: "If we solve the problem of youth unemployment, Africa will gain 10 to 20 percent annual growth.
“This means that Africa's GDP will grow by $ 500 billion a year over the next thirty years.
“Per capita income will increase by 55% per year until 2050."
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