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UN: Africa’s youth unemployment rate reflects ineffective development strategies

The International Labour Organisation’s head of employment and labour markets, Sukti Dasgupta, said the serious and honest political will is needed to avoid a disaster.

International Labour Organisation’s head of employment and labour markets Sukti Dasgupta. Picture: Supplied

ABIDJAN - The United Nations’ Labour Agency has described the youth unemployment crisis in Africa as a reflection of ineffective development strategies.

The International Labour Organisation’s head of employment and labour markets, Sukti Dasgupta, said the serious and honest political will is needed to avoid a disaster.

Of the over 226 million youth on the continent, 13.4 million are unemployed, while 52.2 million are not in employment education or training.

Dasgupta said the biggest problem that has exacerbated the youth unemployment crisis is a lack of opportunities and that drastic action is needed to fix this.

“There is a time bomb about to explode, I would say. The number of youth in the labour market is rising. By 2040 you will have a labour force size on the African continent which will be the combined size of the labour market in India and China.”

The unemployment rate for young people below the age of 25 in South Africa is 58.2% and rises to 70% when using the expanded definition of joblessness which includes discouraged workers.

This is in line with trends observed elsewhere on the continent with the youth unemployment rate in all African subregions higher than overall unemployment.

Dasgupta said analysis showed a need for meaningful and implementable policy and strategy interventions.

“There has to be budget attributed to it. You cannot just say we will do this and that without the clear budget. Nor can you expect that all the budget that will solve the youth unemployment crisis will come from donors.”

Youth unemployment is one of the subjects being discussed at the ILO’s 14th regional meeting in Abidjan.