AfDB Group Strategy for Jobs for Youth in Africa, 2016-2025
Youth are Africa’s greatest asset. While Africa’s economic growth is positive, there is an urgent need to promote inclusive economic transformation and jobs-induced growth to improve the quality of life for all Africans.
Africa’s youth population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. If properly harnessed, this increase in the working age population could support increased productivity and stronger, more inclusive economic growth across the continent.
However, this asset remains untapped due to unemployment and underemployment. The potential benefits of Africa’s youth population are unrealized as two-thirds of non-student youth are unemployed, discouraged, or only vulnerably employed. Only three million formal jobs are created annually despite the ten to twelve million youth that enter the workforce each year. Even when jobs are available, youth often do not have the skills required by employers – despite gains in education access over the past several decades. Women are particularly impacted, often facing even greater barriers to accessing opportunities and earning equal pay.
There are individual, national, and global benefits to improving youth employment. Employment leads to increased incomes, higher standards of living, and better health and education access. It also fuels inclusive growth for countries; lowering the youth unemployment rate to that of adults would translate to a 10 to 20% increase in Africa’s GDP. Conversely, lack of action has consequences. 40% of people who join rebel movements are motivated by lack of economic opportunity. Unemployment also fuels outward migration both within and from Africa. This leads to unspeakable tragedy, reflected by over 3,500 deaths among migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 alone, and increasing costs for host countries.
Jobs for Youth in Africa is a Bank-wide strategy which will create 25 million jobs and positively impact 50 million youth over the next decade. To accomplish this goal, the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy 2016-2025 aims to increase inclusive employment and entrepreneurship, strengthen human capital, and create durable labor market linkages by making use of three strategic intervention areas: Integration, Innovation, and Investment.
Through Integration, the Bank will equip itself and Regional Member Countries to become engines of job creation for young Africans. First, youth employment considerations will be incorporated into Bank projects, staff, and systems. This includes the provision of financial and technical assistance to include a youth employment component in the design of Bank projects across sectors and the addition of youth employment indicators into monitoring and evaluation systems. Second, the Bank will provide technical and financial support to RMCs that enable them to pursue policies and plans that contribute to better youth employment outcomes. These efforts will build institutional capacity and position RMCs to increase their employment effects throughout the next decade.
Through Innovation, the Bank will work with partners to incubate, implement, assess, and scale promising solutions.
Program models focused on developing youth entrepreneurs and enhancing the skills of youth to meet private sector needs will be built based on best practices both within and outside the Bank. These models will be tailored to country contexts, implemented in partnership with the private sector, evaluated, and then refined and scaled in a demand-driven way. Programs will initially focus on the Bank’s high priority sectors of agriculture, industry, and ICT. Over time, additional programs will be designed and implemented for a variety of different sectors.
An Enabling Youth Employment Index will measure youth employment outcomes and enabling policies at the country-level, and provide information on the evolution of labor market performance over time. It can be used as a tool to incentivize policymakers to pursue agendas favorable to youth employment.
An Innovation and Information Lab will support the youth employment and entrepreneurship ecosystem by incubating promising new ideas and assessing best practices for existing interventions. The Lab will be supported by a web-based platform that will disseminate findings to an internal and external audience. Together, these activities will build the evidence base on youth employment interventions.
Through Investment, the Bank will catalyze private sector investments that fuel job creation and employment for youth. The Bank will issue guarantees, support student loan financing programs, make indirect and direct investments, and develop challenge prizes in order to spur more investment into the youth employment and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Together, these activities will reduce financing risks, expand access to capital, and incentivize private sector investments in youth employment challenges.
Dedicated financial and human resources will be put in place to achieve the goals of the strategy. The Bank will set up the Jobs for Youth in Africa Facility, a Special Fund which will pool resources from the Bank and like-minded donors and host a dedicated team focused on youth employment. Other financial resources include the establishment of the Boost Africa Investment Fund which will significantly scale up impact by making equity investments in financial intermediaries, which will in turn invest in high-impact early stage businesses. The Bank will also use existing facilities and programs such as the Africa SME program which will further support efforts to create jobs and economic opportunities.
The Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy 2016-2025 contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Africa. It directly supports SDG8 on inclusive growth, productive employment and decent work for all, SDG4 on equitable education and skills development, and SDG1 on ending poverty. The Bank’s work is anchored in the Bank’s Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022), informed by the Human Capital Strategy (2014-2018), and supportive of the Bank’s Five High-Priority Areas. It builds on insights from Bank-financed projects, lessons learned from the Joint Youth Employment Initiative for Africa, as well as the experiences and best practices of relevant initiatives led by actors outside the Bank.