News / Africa

African Youth Bear Brunt of Global Economic Crisis

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid