More than 15 million decent jobs must be created for Africa by 2025 if governments are serious about making a dent in its unemployment crisis, according to a new charter launched last week.
The People’s Charter on Jobs in Africa – created by the Jobs Now Africa Coalition as part of its new #JobsNowAfrica Campaign – is an interactive tool designed to outline the scale of the urgent crisis where the public is encouraged to a petition to urge governments and non-state partners to prioritize this pressing issue.
Following a six-month-long consultation process across seven African countries that account for a third of the jobs in the continent, the 40 organizations behind the coalition warned that the continent is at the tipping point of what could be the economic breakthrough from the pandemic, but only if investments are made now to prioritize jobs creation and harness the potential of youth.
With Africa’s population expected to double and reach 2.5 billion people by 2050, Africa’s jobless youth risks casting a shadow over its economic growth. Recent figures from the African Development Bank Group show that while 10 to 12 million youth enter the workforce each year, only 3 million formal jobs are created, leaving more than half of the new entrants into the labour market unemployed.
Without a commitment to effectively tackle the unemployment crisis – such as investing in the tech and digital industries and green jobs opportunities, modernizing agriculture to increase productivity and ensuring the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – the organizations behind the coalition warn that the continent risk losing out on the next generation of leaders.
Edwin Ikhuoria, Executive Director for Africa at the ONE Campaign, said: “The African continent is facing an unprecedented unemployment crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot afford to keep turning a blind eye to this pressing issue that has fueled the rising instability and insecurity across the region. Many of our youth are discouraged and slowly losing their spark and excitement for the future, and it’s shameful that not more is done to support them. Too much is at stake for us to continue with the current business-as-usual approach. Job creation must not be an afterthought but rather, tackled alongside other priorities such as pandemic recovery, healthcare and education.”
Roy Telewa, Chief Executive Officer at the National Youth Council, Kenya said: “The population of young people is growing faster than the ability of the continent to create job opportunities for them, and the gap is widening. That’s why #JobsNowAfrica is the contemporary discussion to have. How do we harness the growing population of young people to bring about a demographic dividend? Once we’re able to answer that, talking about how we raise incomes in our homes, expand our savings and investment and expand our productivity, #JobsNowAfrica is the solution for young people, to inform strengthening our governments – institutions specifically – to improve our infrastructure and promote near and long term job creation and opportunities for young people in order to bridge the gap between the rising population and viable employment that brings about a demographic dividend for our continent.
Pearl Thusi, South African Actress and Ambassador for the #JobsNowAfrica campaign said: “Africa has been a contradiction for far too long! A rich continent with poor people! We have so many resources but very limited opportunities. We provide the world with raw materials and import finished goods – giving our jobs away to other continents. This has to stop! Before Covid-19, we thought we had a major problem of joblessness, but when the pandemic hit, we saw an increasing crisis of job losses. Africa lost more than 20 million jobs at the peak of the crisis. To the extent that people preferred to be infected than to be hungry because of job loss. Africa needs at least 15 million new decent jobs every year for its young people. Africans have spoken! Quality jobs more than any other issue should be the priority for governments. This is why the #JobsNowAfrica coalition is putting jobs back at the top of the agenda.