Thought leadership - 2011: Youth and Jobs in Africa





Youth unemployment is one of the top priorities shaping African politics for the next generation. Joblessness is endemic in Africa, especially among the young. Youth unemployment and underemployment in some countries is as high as 80 per cent, including relatively well performing states such as Mozambique and Ghana. This situation is made increasingly dire by the fact that by 2025, nearly one quarter of the world's young people (under the age of 25) will be from sub-Saharan Africa - an extraordinary statistic. Many of these youths will be living in Africa's cities. With an urbanisation rate, in some African countries, as high as (or over) 10 per cent per annum, keeping ahead of the need for jobs for new entrants demands annual economic growth rates much higher than any African country has achieved in recent years.

A Brenthurst dialogue series held throughout the month of May with the governments of Zambia, Mozambique and Swaziland focused on the role government can play in creating an enabling environment for business formalisation and increased employment. These high-level meetings culminated in the Brenthurst publication, Putting Young Africans to Work: Addressing Africa's youth unemployment crisis.

In late September, The Brenthurst Foundation, in partnership with the Mail & Guardian, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (US), Rajaratnam School of International Studies (Singapore) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Germany), hosted a three-day dialogue focused on connecting strong economic growth in Africa to job creation on the ground. The dialogue brought together senior policy makers, such as Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya, as well as business leaders, and academics. The Brenthurst Discussion Paper, Modelling for Growth and Jobs in Africa, draws on this dialogue along with expertise from Central America and Asia, to offer suggestions for the way toward increased job creation in Africa.

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