by Sana Afouaiz - 01 January 2015
Do the African governments establish any national plans to confront the economic crisis facing their youth? Are Africans in Diaspora a forgotten element of the African economic development?
Who should be blamed? The foreign colonization? The African governments? Or the youth themselves?
One of the biggest challenges facing governments in Africa is providing employment opportunities for more than 200 million young people so that they can have decent lives and contribute to the social and economic development of their countries.
Actually Africa has the fastest population growth predictable between now and 2050 and the youngest population in the world. It is decisive that governments react towards this youth growth into national and social development planning.
Youth employment challenges in Africa are most of the time perceived as a result of rapid population growth rates, and then it becomes hard to control and to correspond to all the needs. Actually, it is not the numbers of young people that has led unemployment, but lack of specific structural strategic planning where it should meet the needs of every individual country. It is not possible to apply the same plan confrontation of economic problems to all African countries, since every country has its specific characteristics and needs, African governments need to inspire from example models but implement it within the conditions and the priorities of their home countries.
It is true that a growing youth population is a challenge for Africa today, but it cannot be the reason behind the unemployment figures in Africa. These figures are largely the results of specific economic and political behaviors. Like for example: lack of investments in infrastructure and enhancing sectors with potential for creating jobs, lack of evaluating and developing policies on economic growth in Africa, lack of investing in rural areas and rural youth.
One of the biggest losses of Africa today, is the lack of communicating and investing in youth in the Diaspora, youth Diaspora is outstandingly situated to contribute to boosting the economic growth and prosperity in Africa, and they bring a unique point of views to the discourse on Africa because they have experienced both worlds. They often choose to stay in their host countries because of the lack of not only investing on them, but also lack of decent jobs and complexity of procedures to implement their projects that would lead to economic growth, which in the other hand easier in their host countries, by that Africa loses a rich contributor element and call for professional foreign help.
Levels of education in Africa are moderately low creating a suitable skills gap among youth at working age. This generates lack of skills meeting the needs of the job market.
Though young people today are better educated than their parents, they remain about twice as likely to be unemployed than their elders. This is partially because of a divergence between their skills and what the work market is seeking for.
The African Development Bank estimated that 25% of African youths are still illiterate and even though a rise in primary school enrolment, the lack of skills levels in the workforce will continue to be a crucial problem facing Africa, unless African governments start to develop educational strategy that meet the job market.
In fact, there are some initiatives launched to confront this issue, for example in Senegal, there is an initiative called the Agence d’Exécution des Travaux d’Intéret Public, where unemployed youth are trained before getting permanent jobs. In Burkina Faso, through a project, student attend school and at the same time work as trainee to learn industry specific skills.
Nonetheless, with increasing numbers of youth population, these few initiatives aren’t able enough to face the unemployment issue and the difficulties that come with it.
We often hear that the lack of development in Africa is due to the colonization effects, well many countries of the world have been colonized but moved on, including developing countries, sometimes I think Africans are colonized in their minds when they keep holding the idea of blaming the current situation on history colonization even though there might be an effect, but our concern is to find out solutions and to move forward, make a development not as a desire but as an action. Africans need to look on the future and stop looking back on the past.
The relationship between population and youth unemployment is very complicated. As populations increase, concentrated efforts are needed to be done to avoid the youth exclusion from work market and lack of economic growth. To do this, African countries need to address the economic growth issues through transformative economic and social policies.
It is our duties as individual as well to find solutions, to contribute in an innovative way to develop our communities and countries, it always starts with oneself.
As Socrates said: “THE SECRET OF CHANGE lS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD BUT ON BUILDING THE NEW”.