By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
The African Union, AU, has called for more investments to promote job creation, achieve all inclusive growth and eradicate poverty in the continent.
Speaking during the 102nd session of the International Labour Conference, ILC, in Geneva, Switzerland, Chairman, African Union Commission, AUC, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, predicted that the continent would in the next fifty years be home to 1.1 billion workers, more than a third of the global workforce.
According to her, “We are determined to step up efforts to promote job creation, work for the eradication of poverty, achieve growth and allow equitable distribution, particularly for women and the youth. Africa has managed to resist internal and external shocks and is expected to grow by 4.8 percent in 2013 and 5.3 percent in 2014.
But according to Dlamini-Zuma, there are significant challenges ahead. “By all estimates, our continent is a continent of young people, and it is getting younger. By 2025, it is estimated that the African youth will make up one-quarter of the world’s population. By 2040, half of the world’s youth population will be African, the majority of which will be women and girls. This means that in the next fifty years, approximately 1.1 billion of the global workforce will be African,” she noted.
She called for more investments in African agriculture, infrastructure, small and medium enterprises, sea transportation, energy, information and communications technology, and tourism, noting that investing in Africa’s youth was a big part of meeting the challenges facing the region.
She said, “It is imperative that, we invest in our people’s health nutrition and education and have them acquire the skills that will enable them to become productive members of our society. To be properly employed, the youth must be employable.”
The Chairperson of the AUC mentioned a joint initiative developed by the AU Commission, the African Development Bank, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the ILO aimed at promoting youth employment in the continent, stressing that “if we properly invest in youth and women, they can become a great asset to drive Africa’s social, economic and cultural development, failing which they can be a serious liability.”