The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) to provide insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth as outlined in the bank’s jobs for youth in Africa strategy.
The jobs for youth in Africa initiative aims at creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million youths over the next ten years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs.
It is the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa today.
The advisory group, inaugurated on the sidelines of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Monday, by AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina, will work with the bank to create jobs for Africa’s youth.
“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20 per cent annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500 million per year for the next thirty years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55 per cent every year to the year 2050,” he said in a statement.
Adesina, who identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth, observed that out of the 13 million youths that enter the labour market each year, only 3 million (about 33 per cent of African youth) are in wage employment, while the rest are underemployed or in vulnerable employment.
The annual gap of more than 8 million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800 million in the next decades.
“Africa has an unemployment crisis among its youth,” he stressed, noting that unless employment opportunities are created for them, Africa’s rapidly growing population of youth can give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges.
Africa’s youth, though strong and dynamic, cross the desert or the Mediterranean sea because they do not find decent jobs in Africa. Graduates are wandering in the streets, jobless. The low level of employment opportunities is also fueling violence and extremism in Africa.
“Forty per cent of African youth engaged in armed violence join gangs or terrorist groups because of limited opportunities in their countries,” Adesina said.
Up to 66 million African youth earn less than $2 a day, according to the AfDB President.
“Sixty-six million is eight times the size of Switzerland, six times the size of Belgium, the same size as UK, France or Italy, and 80 per cent of Germany’s population,” he added.
PYAG comprises nine members under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the creation of employment opportunities for African youth.
The PYAG members are Ashish Thakkar, the chief executive of Mara Group, Tanzania (chair); Uzodinma Iweala, an award-winning author from Nigeria; Mamadou Toure, the founder and chief executive of Africa 2.0 / Ubuntu Capital, Cameroon; Vanessa Moungar, a human and social development director, AfDB and member of French President Emmanuel Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa (from Chad); Francine Muyumba, the president of Pan-African Youth Union, from DR Congo; Jeremy Johnson, the co-founder of Andela, US; Clarisse Iribagiza, the chief executive of Hehe, Rwanda; Ada Osakwe, the chief executive of Agrolay Ventures, Nigeria; and Monica Musonda, the chief executive of Java Foods, Zambia.
On the rationale behind the setting up of the advisory group, Adesina explained: “We recognise the enormous amount of energy, creative and innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial excellence that many of our youth bring to the table.
“For this reason, the bank must ensure that it is well advised by cutting-edge youth representatives on its policies, actions and programmes, for the benefit of Africa’s youth.”
Youth-led economic transformation
PYAG is an opportunity for leading young voices in Africa to develop new and fresh perspectives and recommend innovative solutions that will shape AfDB’s support to African countries, and reduce the scourge of Youth unemployment.
Ashish Thakkar, of Mara Group and chairperson of the PYAG, said: “It is a great honour to serve our continent in this function. We know that the stakes are high, but we are committed to the task of creating flourishing youth businesses that provide tremendous value. We are also focused on facilitating the achievement of AfDB’s High 5s and Sustainable Development Goals. We have just concluded our work programme for the next year and have hit the ground running.”