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AfDB aims to create 25 million jobs for African youths

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Kigali: The African Development Bank (AfDB) continues to recognize the urgent need to promote inclusive, sustainable and jobs-rich growth where youth are the drivers of the required transformation and responsible for their own positive economic and social progress.

Over the next decade, AfDB aims to create 25 million jobs and positively impact a total of 50 million youth through the implementation of the Jobs for Youth in Africa (JfYA) Strategy (2016-2025) which highlights Integration, Innovation and Investment as the key strategic areas.

Through Integration, the Bank will equip itself (projects, staff and systems) and regional member countries by means of financial support and policy dialogues to become engines for job creation.

“We are integrating youth employment and entrepreneurship components into new Bank projects, and are working very closely with regional member countries to develop policies that promote decent jobs for youth,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group.

AfDB believes that harnessing the vigour, innovativeness and entrepreneurial spirit of young African women and men is critical to driving economic growth for poverty reduction and finally ending poverty entirely. African youth need to be empowered to turn the continent into an economic powerhouse.

This requires bold steps and strengthened stakeholder cooperation. In its first year of JfYA implementation AfDB therefore organized five Regional Ministerial Conferences on Jobs for Youth in Africa with more than 1000 high-level representatives joining forces, including 140 Ministers and Government Officials as well as private sector executives; youth group leaders, civil society organizations and development partners. These platforms paved the way for re-emphasized country dialogues to tailor the jobs-rich growth solutions to the country contexts, thereby taking advantage of the demographic dividend on the African continent.

Along these lines and showing the cross-institutional collaboration, there is a consensus that this year’s African Union theme on ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth’ will have far-reaching impact to help address the key issues to change the development trajectory of Africa: pro decent and sustainable jobs for youth.

Through the implementation of the Innovation pillar of the JfYA Strategy, AfDB will create roll-out flagship programs in agriculture, industrialization and ICT as well as an innovation lab that will test, assess, and scale promising solutions to accelerate job creation in Africa. To facilitate macroeconomic policies that are conducive to jobs for youth, an Enabling Youth Employment Index for Africa is being developed.

Other examples include initiatives such as Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth, and the African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF), through which AfDB is continuously equipping young people with the relevant skills for business and employment. The Bank has also strengthened its support for science, technology and innovation by investing in Centres of Excellence, working in collaboration with the private sector.

Success stories from ENABLE Youth are evident across Africa. For instance in Uganda, the second largest producer of bananas in the world, Sam Turyatunga saw an opportunity in scaling-up his production of his own brand of banana juice. As a college student, Sam produced the juice in his own dormitory. Supported by AfDB, Turyatunga now produces 1,500 litres of banana juice daily and sells its product in three other countries in East Africa. His firm also supports 500 banana farmers.

Through Investment, the Bank will undertake interventions, such as ‘Boost Africa’, to catalyse private sector investment by expanding access to capital, through direct and indirect debt and equity investments. This is also complemented by guarantees and first-loss provisions to reduce risks for banks’ lending to SMEs, especially those owned or managed by youth.

Youth unemployment and underemployment cannot be left un-tackled. Investing in skills through technical and vocational education will be essential to enabling young people to find jobs and business opportunities.

“Africa’s youth population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. If properly harnessed, this increase in the working age population could support increased productivity and stronger, more inclusive economic growth across the continent. This will also help Africa turn its demographic asset into an economic dividend,” Adesina said.

AfDB’s leadership in this area is anchored in its implementation of the Bank’s Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022) and accelerated through the Bank’s Five High-Priority Areas: Light up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

 

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