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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid