News / Africa

African Youth Bear Brunt of Global Economic Crisis

Multimedia

Audio

Young people in Africa are among the groups hurt most by the current economic downturn.  Global financial problems usually have the greatest effect on the most vulnerable sectors of society and, given their limited access to resources, youth are among the vulnerable.

The problem is magnified by the fact that almost two-thirds of Africa’s population is under 25 years old, according to a report by the Africa Commission -- a body created in 2008 that wrapped up its work in 2009.

The Danish-led commission consisted of heads of state and government, politicians, experts and representatives of international and regional organizations.  It looked at ways that African countries can create decent jobs, foster entrepreneurship and provide greater opportunities for young Africans through education, skills development and access to finance.

As has been the case in other parts of the world, in Africa the global financial crisis threatens the employment prospects of millions of young people trying to enter the job market.  The Africa Commission estimated that figure at nine million each year.

Youth are finding it difficult to find employment and that stops them from “achieving autonomy and being able to be fully included in society,” it says. 

In many African countries, the job market was bad enough before the global recession.  But in the past two years it has become worse.  Many Africans graduate from college with little hope of finding work.  Both the public and private sectors are downsizing their existing workforce.  That means fewer prospects for employment for young people.  

Over 50 percent of businesses in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga province have closed and about 300,000 people have been laid off, according to a report by Jeroen Cuvelier of the Institute for Anthropological Research on Africa.

The same thing has happened in South Africa, with statistics showing that thousands of migrant laborers come from neighboring countries like Lesotho and Swaziland.  They are mainly young men who leave families behind to seek for work and become part of the ongoing cycle of rural-urban migration. 
   
The money they make from jobs in the city helps them support their families back home.  But with jobs scarce, many return home empty handed.

Government cuts jobs

In most African countries, the biggest employer is the government, now facing stiff budget cuts because of low foreign aid and fewer remittances from the West.  Direct foreign investment, a source of employment in many of these countries, has declined.  So has domestic investment, a victim of high interest rates, depreciation of national currencies and other factors. 
   
Self Employment
   
A few young people seek non-traditional options, like starting a business, but it’s difficult for them to get loans because banks usually lend to established business people or require security that the young often don’t have.  The global financial crisis has made it harder for commercial banks to lend to the well-established businesses, much less start-ups.   
   
Nevertheless, some young people have managed to launch their own businesses.  One of them, Lameck Gadala of Blantyre, Malawi, says it is more viable, given the volatility of the local job market. 
   
“When you are employed and the company is affected by the global economic crisis, you will not receive any salary increment and, worse still, you will be retrenched,” he says.
   
Lost potential?

“African governments need to realize the potential of such a large (young) workforce,” says Robert Kayinamura, a young Rwandan lawyer in Washington, DC.  Indeed, African economists agree that as African governments seek economic development, they need to engage young people.

“Youth can be a formidable force to steer and contribute to the development process of any country,” says a report from the United Nations Development Program.
   
But this is not a new issue, and efforts to address it have been underway for a couple of years.  In fact, a paper presented at the fifth African Development Forum in 2006, entitled Youth and Leadership in Africa, said, “African governments and international partners needed to focus policy initiatives and resources on improving the leadership role of African youth.”
   
“The success of such efforts, it says, depends on the participation of young people in all aspects of the public policy process.”  Robert Kayinamura agrees, saying “youth must be part of any development agenda and poverty-reduction strategy.”

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs