Report: Putting Africa’s Youth to Work

By Francis Cordor

According to World Population Review, Africa is home to more than 1.3 billion people, nearly 41 percent of whom are under the age of 15. The median ages (where half the population is older and half younger) for African countries are consistently in the teens. For example, Liberia’s median age is 17.8 years old, and the world’s youngest country in terms of median age, Niger, has a median age of just 15.4. To put that in perspective, the median age in the United States is 38.1, and the world’s oldest country in terms of median age, Monaco, has a median age of 53.1.

Not only is Africa’s population largely composed of youth (which is generally defined as ages 15 to 24), its youth unemployment rate is extraordinarily high and youth labor participation has been stagnant for years. For example, the overall youth unemployment rate for sub-Saharan Africa is around 12 percent. Tanzania and Zambia both have youth unemployment rates of 38 percent. South Africa is notable for having the highest youth unemployment rate in the world at 52.8 percent according to Spectator Index.

Having a large percentage of teens and young adults unemployed is detrimental to the youth themselves and society as a whole. Consequences include everything from the inability to gain financial independence from their families or get out of poverty, desperation, mental health issues, and drug and alcohol use to crime, social unrest, homelessness, illegal trade, and lower output and loss of human capital.

“Brain drain” and migration are particularly problematic. With brain drain, the most talented seek job opportunities off the continent, causing a shortage of much-needed professionals such as doctors and engineers. As of June 2018, The Guardian put the total migrant crisis death count at more than 34,000 as African migrants attempt to find better opportunities in Europe and beyond. Those who survive the trek may also be vulnerable to trafficking and other forms of exploitation.

Clearly, high youth unemployment is undesirable to individuals and society alike. Africa needs to put its youth to work. Finding work in Africa is challenging in general, but even more so for the young and inexperienced.

NumberTrend, a new job search engine launching this month, aims to change that. NumberTrend offers both online and offline opportunities, helping to match young job seekers with employers in Africa. Free web and mobile apps enable job seekers in Africa and its diaspora to filter job opportunities to match their specific talents and geographic constraints. Anonymous employer reviews provide real-world insights as to the best and worst employers. This transparency has a natural tendency to prompt employers to improve their practices in order to compete and become more attractive. NumberTrend is free to applicants. Employers can start with a free basic plan or upgrade for more features and better visibility. Paid job listings are also available.

Number Trend’s job fairs serve as one-stop events where job seekers can meet and interview with dozens of employers in their communities. Many are slated to be hosted at high schools and universities, allowing employers to foster relationships at a crucial point in students’ lives. Computer training opportunities will also be available on NumberTrend.

Africa’s youth unemployment rate is troublesome for an emerging continent with the world’s youngest population. Companies across Africa are starting to recognize their important role in solving this problem.

Featured photo courtesy of Kyle Taylor

Source TBC


Uganda: 360 youths acquire income-earning skills

In Summary

  • The one-year project funded by the Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL) was developed to implement interventions in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement with both the refugee population and host communities.
  • Through an integrated approach, BRAC implemented the skills development project in which the trainees completed a six-month, non-formal training in trades including bakery, electronics, tailoring, carpentry and hairdressing amongst others.

By Monitor Reporter

On Wednesday February 27, 360 youths graduated after having attained skills they can use to improve their lives and earn incomes.
This was the first cohort of the 2019 Skills Development Project, a project initiated by BRAC Uganda in partnership with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).
The one-year project funded by the Belgian Development Agency (ENABEL) was developed to implement interventions in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement with both the refugee population and host communities.

Through an integrated approach, BRAC implemented the skills development project in which the trainees completed a six-month, non-formal training in trades including bakery, electronics, tailoring, carpentry and hairdressing amongst others.

The training was conducted by YWCA at their training centres in Kiryandongo. The trainees were also taught business skills, life skills and functional literacy and numeracy. Upon successful completion, each graduate received a start-up kit which had essential tools and inputs for beginning a business in line with their chosen trade, for example sewing machines and grinding machines.

Kiryandongo LCV chairperson, UNHCR Coordinator, BRAC Country Representative, YWCA President and the ENABEL team cut the graduation cake. COURTESY PHOTO
Clementina Deng a 25-year-old refugee, and a successful graduate of the microenterprise part of the project said, “These skills are not handouts; we are carrying them with us for life, even when we return to our homes. We will be better and more productive people. This is something that will last.”

Ismail Kyepu, a local resident in Kiryandongo reiterated Deng’s point as he said, “Through the financial literacy trainings, I have learnt how to handle my money. I know the benefits of saving, and how to budget accordingly.”

Displaced persons may lose more than just their homes, they may lose access to skills, confidence and dreams. This is why, aware of the untapped potential borne by each individual and the role they play in the prosperity of their communities, BRAC decided to target the youth, women and girl’s population consisting of both refugees and host population to help them restart their lives and acquire technical and practical skills.

Given the high unemployment rates in Uganda generally, many youths and women are making their livelihoods in the informal sector which tends to be highly competitive. This intervention looks towards equipping trainees with the knowledge and skills to enhance and develop their entrepreneurial mind-set and create awareness about entrepreneurship as a viable alternative to paid employment.

Source Daily Monitor

Head of African youth network: Listen to young people on ecology

By Fredrick Nzwili

The head of an African youth network urged the world’s religions to embrace the voices of young people, as the leaders explore ways to tackle the current global ecological crisis.

Allen Ottaro, founder and executive director of the Catholic Youth Network for Environment Sustainability for Africa, said young people were aware of the current realities of climate change and were ready to join in the search for solutions.

“Youth have said they will do their homework, but you (adults) also need to do yours,” Ottaro said during a side event during the U.N. Environment Nairobi Convention. “While we are asking for space, we’re also prepared to take responsibilities. The best way to take the responsibilities is to get involved in those decision-making processes that in the ultimately affect our future.”

Ottaro was one of several delegates from faith and faith-related organizations who attended the U.N. convention in Nairobi. More than 5,000 delegates from around the world gathered March 11-15 to discuss ways of accelerating environmental protection.

“We can no longer delay taking action to protect people and this planet,” Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of the U.N. Environmental Program, said at the opening session March 11.

French President Emmanuel Macron echoed a similar call at the meeting, noting that young people were pushing for urgent action.

“Our youths are saying: You are not moving fast enough. They are right to get impatient, because we are too late,” Macron told the meeting March 14.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the presence of faith leaders at the meeting, saying they could provide useful lessons in environmental protections.

“Faiths for Earth” was a side event at the assembly.

The Catholic Youth Network for Environment Sustainability for Africa joined Brahma Kumaris, a worldwide Hindu spiritual movement, to host a session during the side event, where Ottaro spoke.

He said faiths should not fear young people’s critical voices even when the matter is sensitive and controversial.

“Young people are not a time bomb. They are a key asset to tap to care for our common home. We need to tap into this asset, rather than see it as a time bomb. They are not the future but the now of God,” he said. He also urged young people to raise their voices so that they can be heard by their leaders.

Catholic youths from Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda and South Africa launched the youth network in 2012 after being inspired by St. John Paul II’s 1990 World Day of Peace message, which called for increasing ecological awareness and finding fitting expressions in concrete programs and initiatives.

The network aims to unite young Catholics in Africa in the response to climate change and environmental degradation, through creating awareness, training, networking groups and supporting parishes in the work around the environment.

“We are looking at how we can use Catholic social teaching to form young people to discover how they are called to care for creation as Catholics. We are also looking at formation on ecological issues to understand what is happening to our common home (through) climate change,” Ottaro told the Catholic News Service in an interview, referring to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’.” In networking and advocacy, he explained, the organization attempts to find interfaith collaborations with like-minded interfaith groups, for example, hosting the event with Brahma Kumaris.

“We work with non-Catholics, as long as they respect the Catholic traditions and Catholic social teachings,” he said. “We need to give voice and visibility to that core identity we have, and this is unique perspective we can bring to this space and this kind of forum as people of faith.”

He cited progress in mobilizing young people but said their capacity could be strengthened.

“People are starting to listen, but we do not have the luxury time,” he said.

Franciscan Father Hermann Borg, director of Mother Earth Network, an organization that deals with environmental issues, said that while the U.N., some governments and private institutions have developed policies that care for the environment, there are still many holes.

“Deforestation is already there, and the demand for clean water. The pollution (in the) air and water is increasing,” Father Borg told Catholic News Service. “It’s all human made. It is all made because of our comforts. We have seriously damaged our common world. That mean we have to come in and plan the next activities.”

“We have to change lifestyles. We have to change our behaviors, otherwise the globe will collapse,” added the priest.

But Father Borg said he was concerned that climate change has never been a priority from top of the church hierarchy down to the parishes.

“The initiative the Catholic Church can have tremendous impact, but the care for the environment has been neglected for a number of generations,” said the priest.

Source CNS