Africa has been described as the youthful continent. Because its population is largely young. But while this provides the continent with demographic dividends that when carefully and skillfully harnessed, could lead to social stability and economic development, Africa’s youth, are faced with the challenges of employment.
To address the challenges of skills and jobs, the African Development Bank, (AfDB) announced this week that in June and July this year, one of its technical review committees approved eight project proposals to receive funding in an important milestone for its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, and Ghana is one of the beneficiary countries.
“Approved proposals will receive grant funding of more than $7.3 million to operationalize their activities, creating several new enterprises and an estimated 20,000 jobs for youth across the continent,” the Bank said in a statement.
The youth population in Africa is growing. The United Nations predicts that, the continent’s youthful population would increase by 42 per cent by 2030 from 19 per cent in 2015.
The UN statistics say there were 1.2 billion young people aged 15-24 years globally in 2015, comprising nearly 30 per cent of the world’s population. Approximately 226 million of these young people live in Africa, making the continent the most youthful in the world. Children under age 15 accounted for 41 per cent of the population in Africa and young persons aged 15 to 24 accounted for a further 19 per cent. By 2030, the target date for the sustainable development goals, it is projected that the number of youth in Africa will increase by 42 per cent to 321 million, it said.
The continent’s youth therefore, need the necessary skills training and jobs to empower them to grow into functional members of the society as adults. Increasing job opportunities and skills provision also lead to stability on the continent, as there won’t be idle youths to engage in anti-social behaviours.
According to the AfDB, several of the approved proposals under the strategy were submitted in response to a call from its Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department (AHHD) through the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund late last year. Bank offices, complexes and departments from across regional member countries submitted nearly 24 proposals for committee review, it added.
Themes submitted included capacity building for entrepreneurs, climate change, gender, affordable housing, food security, migration and textiles, with the common thread of creating decent jobs for young women and men, the AfDB said.
The approved projects, the AfDB indicates include business development support for agricultural entrepreneurs selling online in Malawi and Zimbabwe, training to help staff members of Libya’s Ministry of Labour better meet the needs of young entrepreneurs including women and people living with disabilities, an online training and accelerator programme for entrepreneurs in the textile, apparel and accessories industries, and an initiative to boost job creation in climate change adaptation and resilience in Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Guinea, Morocco, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Chad, Gabon and South Africa.
Commenting, Martha Phiri, Director of the Bank’s Human Capital, Youth and Skills Department said; “The diverse range of themes and interests demonstrates the degree that our Bank peers understand that creating jobs for Africa’s growing youth population is a cross-cutting issue to be factored into operations across the continent.”
“The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund is increasingly viewed as a destination resource for financing our scale up efforts to create decent jobs for young women and men,” she added.
The AfDB notes that the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy calls for the integration of jobs and skills for youth across Bank operations to maximize the impact on increasing employment opportunities.
“It specifically mandates embedding youth employment into Bank plans, projects, staff training and systems, and increasing the Bank’s influence and support in regional member countries. One of the projects approved is leveraging technical collaboration with the International Labor Organization to develop the Bank’s employment marker,” it says.
The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund provides project preparation and co-financing for Bank projects and places great emphasis on employability, entrepreneurship and job creation through enterprise and value chain development. The Fund has also supported countries that implement policies conducive to private sector development and youth employment, the Bank says.
The Fund which was launched in November 2017, promotes the creation of sustainable jobs for young Africans by equipping youth and women-led startups, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises with the skills, financial support and enabling environments to run bankable businesses, the Bank states.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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