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African Economic Conference: The do’s and don’ts of youth employment

06/12/2019

African governments, working with civil society and the private sector, should formulate deliberate policies to boost employability, particularly of the continent’s youth, according to regional surveys presented at this year’s African Economic Conference (AEC) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

Researchers Abou Kane from Senegal, Joachim Tindo from Cameroon and Togo’s Mawussi Djahini-Afawoubo administered the survey to analyze the labor market in their respective countries.

The survey results on Wednesday dominated discussions at the three-day conference, hosted by the African Development Bank in partnership with the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The theme of the conference is: “Jobs, entrepreneurship and capacity development for African youth.”

Kane’s study, which sampled 2,755 people in Dakar, assessed the impact of state-run support programs. “The support programs improved the employability of the beneficiaries, but they did not sufficiently boost self-employment.”

According to him, Senegalese men have easier access to employment and are more likely to be in permanent jobs than women.

“The government and the private sector should encourage and sustain these programs. Moreover, women and young people should be taken into consideration to improve their situation,” he said.

“The programs proposed have a positive overall effect on confidence (86% of respondents), the judgment of capacities (87%) and bringing young people closer to the labor market (61%).”

Tindo explored the participation of young people in public employment in Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad and Senegal. His study found that the economic crisis of the mid-1980s in sub-Saharan Africa had severe consequences for Francophone economies.

“These countries had high unemployment rates during this period. For Cameroon, the unemployment rate exceeded 20% between 1993 and 1994,” Tindo said.

Togolese researcher Djahini-Afawoubo examined how labor market policies affect the transition from training to working life. He called on governments to aid the formalization of small businesses in a bid to ensure stable and decent jobs for young people.

“Governments should also ensure that fixed-term jobs are deliberately created as part of state labor market policies. This could include measures to reduce the cost of labor for formal businesses and reduce the tax burden,” he added.