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What future for Africa if its young people live on less than $ 2 a day?

Jorge Saba Arbach, a World Bank expert, presented on Thursday at ADB (African Development Bank) premises, the advance copy of the Report on development indicators in Africa 2008-2009: Youth and employment in Africa “. This copy developed from the study of more than 4000 indicators has not targeted MENA counties, which however can use it since  highlights the situation of African youth experiencing several ailments including unemployment,

Being young in Africa

This copy mentions  that 62% of the African population is aged under 25 and  unemployment among the young is 50%, making them face difficulties  to enter the job market, especially girls. The study outlines a clear picture of the young in Africa. Being young in this continent usually involves girls aged 18 and a half, living in rural areas and school dropouts. 70% of young people in Africa live on less than $ 2 a day. According to WB figures, 65% of African youth work in the farming sector, are overexploited and hired for unregulated work and therefore don’t work under normal circumstances; they feed waves of migration to urban areas, where  things are hardly better. For girls, the situation is even worse, women work much more than men. These conditions and poverty that affect the youth of most African countries pose many challenges world and regional organizations, including the WB and ADB are facing.

A majority of young people  still live in rural areas…. and limited programs

Besides natural resources, the true value available in Africa, is its human resource potential, especially youth. Creating a sufficient number of jobs to cope with the growing  number of young people  is the main challenge that will curtail as much as possible the exodus flow of  young people into urban areas, and to do so, the private sector is set to double its effort. For now, 70% of the young population still live in rural areas, resulting in an increasing number of jobseekers, young people working on farms  who dream of starting to find better opportunities elsewhere. 

 The majority of programs that were launched in these African countries are limited. They focus on two or three of the issues adressed, leaving aside other ones that exacerbate the situation in the meantime. These programs were also limited in time, two to three years without follow-up. These programs focus more on urban areas, aggravating the situation by complicating the problems associated with the exodus.

Africa must rely on itself and improve the business climate

To address this growing problem, the World Bank proposed the adoption of an integrated approach. According to Jorge Saba Arbach, the point is to set a balance between job supply and demand in rural than in urban areas. Sound initiatives should be launched to postpone exodus of rural youth. Accordingly, urgent investment should be mobilized in order to improve infrastructure, productivity, increase investment in irrigation and water resources, and it will be necessary to explore the immense potential of other activities. This approach could indeed improve public services in these areas as well as living conditions.

The advance copy also stressed the importance of access to education, either by building schools in these areas, or by encouraging young people to integrate ‘programs’ providing  a second chance in education “. The road is very long. African countries are most concerned by this situation, but they are not alone. Northern countries, particularly European ones, are facing waves of immigration from countries including sub-Saharan Africa. These European countries have not honoured their aid commitments to the continent, and the financial crisis has exacerbated the situation. France and Britain have cancelled their aid pledges and could be followed by other countries. Therefore, up to Africa to rely on itself. Improving the investment climate in these countries is one of the ways to create new business, boost production and hence employment.

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