Youth unemployment a serious concern – PM

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente speaks during a gala dinner for YouthConnekt Africa Summit participants on Friday. / Courtesy

Rwanda’s Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente Friday observed that youth unemployment was becoming an increasing concern and needed to “seriously be addressed.”

Ngirente was speaking at a High-Level Gala Dinner organised in honour of the 2019 YouthConnekt Africa Summit participants at the Kigali Convention Centre.

YouthConnekt, a three-day conference that brought together nearly 4,000 participants from across more than 90 countries concluded on Friday.

At the gala dinner, the Premier reminded participants that earlier this year, the African Union recognised the YouthConnekt as a continental Initiative that can fast track the progress of Agenda 2063 and the African Youth Charter.

According to Ngirente, this endorsement, along with various regional efforts of the YouthConnekt Africa Hub, has led to the growth of the hub membership to 12 member States.

“Additionally, some more countries are planning to launch the YouthConnekt programmes.” He said.

One of those countries is Mauritania, a new member of the platform that announced at the conference that it had given themselves up to six months to launch YouthConnekt in the country.

The Prime Minister said that by 2055, Africa’s population will have doubled, highlighting the need for investments in youth to ensure that they are competitive on the labour market.

This, he noted, will be possible when youth are equipped with needed skills.

Youth unemployment

“However, youth unemployment is a growing concern on the continent and globally. This challenge needs to be seriously addressed, and in a sustainable manner by engaging both Public and Private sector,” he said.

“In this regard, every stakeholder has a role to play in addressing youth employment, and it is time to align vision with resources and execution,” he added.

According to the International Labour Organization, young people account for roughly 40 percent of the world’s unemployed and are up to four times more likely to be unemployed than adults. The organisation projects that the situation will get worse in most developing and emerging regions.

One-third of young people worldwide can be described as NEETs—Not in Education, Employment, or Training. The income of as many as a third of young people who are employed falls below national poverty lines.

One in four young people in the world cannot find jobs paying more than $1.25 per day, the international threshold of extreme poverty shows.

Of Africa's nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment.

Youth face roughly doubles the unemployment rate of adults, with significant variation by country.

Ngirente pointed to the recently ratified Continental Free Trade Area as “one step further on our journey of continental transformation towards achieving a common vision.”

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) officially went into force in May. The agreement, signed by all but three of Africa’s fifty-five nations, establishes the largest free trade area in the world since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995.

AfCFTA will cover more than 1.2 billion people and over $3 trillion in GDP. The agreement, whose implementation will kick off next year, promises to unlock Africa’s economic potential.

The Premier urged leaders to make it their legacy to ensure the current generation is enabled to drive Africa’s economic transformation, to change the narrative of the continent, to develop value chains, ecosystems and live dignified lives.

“If we do so, we can rest assured that future generations will prosper.”

editor@newtimesrwanda.com