While the rest of the world have their population somehow slowing, the same can’t be said about Africa; it continues to rise, and by 2050, the UN projects that it will have doubled from the current 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion.
The continent has more people aged below 20 than anywhere in the world. In a nutshell, the youngest populations are in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average percentage of the population under age 25 is 67 percent.
According to a 2014 World Bank report, 20 percent of Africa’s population is between 15 and 24, this makes a fifth of the world’s youth population.
Some live in the cities and rapidly developing towns, while others are found in the rural villages. They also have different backgrounds – middle-class or from families languishing in poverty. Regardless of where they come from, these young populations have high expectations.
Policy makers in various parts of Africa are concerned about the youth. Although others seem not to care, the truth is Africa’s youth may be its most significant competitive advantage.
Today, jobs and opportunity for young people are continuously being prioritized by governments around the continent. Despite the efforts, unemployment is still the biggest challenge for the youth. Young people, even the highly skilled, find themselves working low paying jobs.
Six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa; however, the unemployment rate in the region is 6 percent, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB). In comparison the world’s average of about 5 percent, the rate might not seem that high. Where the problem is, is that in most African countries, youth unemployment is experienced at rate more than twice that for adults, noted the AfDB.
10 of the top 25 fastest growing economies in the world between 2004-2014 were in Africa, yet millions of youth were unemployed in 2015. Stay tuned to learn about our plans to find employment solutions in our new report out later this week. #YoungAfricaWorks pic.twitter.com/2fNPRZPy40
— MastercardFoundation (@MastercardFdn) March 19, 2018
Youth account for 60 percent of all African unemployed, according to the World Bank. In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate is an eyebrow-raising 30 percent.
Several factors have been attributed to the youth unemployment rates. A financial crisis, for one, often affects the quality of the jobs available to the youth. Skills mismatch, inadequate entrepreneurship, and life skills education, lack of access to capital, the digital divide and corruption are among the leading causes of youth unemployment.
Skills mismatch is a youth unemployment cause that has lingered for long. Millions of the young population who are out of school and ready to work, fail to secure jobs as businesses need skills that they lack. Young people end up experiencing a problematic school-to-work transition, and companies are unable to find suitable candidates for their positions.
Did you know that despite improved education, lack of relevant skills remains a challenge for young people in Africa. The mismatch between the education curriculum and labour market needs is a major contributor to the youth employment challenge. #YoungAfricaWorks pic.twitter.com/zPSO5bVtym
— MastercardFoundation (@MastercardFdn) March 14, 2018
Youth struggle with success and there is no one ready to help. Corruption has led to only specific individuals getting employment while lack of access to the technology and the internet also have disadvantaged them.
Access to capital, support and motivational programmes, ensuring that the youth have the proper skills will allow them to grow businesses and drive the economy. It is so unfortunate that most policymakers are determined to better the situation, but clearly, it’s been all talk and no actions.
Working with the youth allows them to maximize their potentials not to mention that it goes a long way in ending the youth unemployment crisis. There are solutions and policy options to be adopted, which includes globalization, widening of the youth’s opportunities and allowing them to utilize the available technology will go a long way in job creation.
Africa’s vibrant youth represent an enormous opportunity, especially now, when populations in much of the world are aging rapidly. Youth are creating jobs. Africa’s growing labor force could just be the asset in the global marketplace.
Realising this brighter vision for Africa’s future, however, will require a clearer understanding of how to beneﬁt from this asset. It will need a clear-eyed look at the economic forces shaping their opportunities.