News / Africa

Despite Education, African Youth Remain Stubbornly Unemployed

A homeless child repairs a shoe along a street in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa on June 16, 2013. Youth poverty and unemployment are fueling criminality in Congo's teeming capital.A homeless child repairs a shoe along a street in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa on June 16, 2013. Youth poverty and unemployment are fueling criminality in Congo's teeming capital.
x
A homeless child repairs a shoe along a street in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa on June 16, 2013. Youth poverty and unemployment are fueling criminality in Congo's teeming capital.
A homeless child repairs a shoe along a street in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa on June 16, 2013. Youth poverty and unemployment are fueling criminality in Congo's teeming capital.
Jennifer Lazuta
Millions of young Africans, some of them very well educated, find it almost impossible to land a secure job with a decent wage.  Experts say more must be done to address the problem of youth unemployment in Africa, as it stifles economic growth, and is associated with higher levels of crime, violence and drug use. 

The International Labor Organization (ILO) says that youth in Africa are twice as likely to be unemployed as adults. This is despite the fact that the current generation of Africans entering the labor force is the most educated cohort ever.

Twenty-seven-year-old Babacar Sougoufara holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar.  He has been looking for work in the finance sector for nearly two years now.

“Unemployment for young people is a big problem," Babacar said. "Senegal is an underdeveloped country.  There are not a lot of enterprises here and the state doesn’t encourage small investments or create projects that could create jobs. Nepotism is also a problem," he added. "One must have a parent who has connections in order to find work.”

Sougoufara isn’t alone.

The ILO says an estimated 73.4 million young people worldwide were unemployed in 2013.  And the percentage of unemployed youth grew from 12.4 percent in 2012 to 12.6 percent in 2013. That number is expected to rise to 12.7 percent this year.

The regional director of the International Development Research Center (IDRC), Simon Carter, said this is a worrying trend.

“It’s a concern obviously for politicians worried about the threat of unrest as populations become more educated, as expectations rise, " Carter said. "But I think more importantly it’s a huge potentially wasted resource if opportunities aren’t created to unlock people’s creativity, to allow people to innovate, to start new companies.”

Carter said there are many reasons for youth unemployment, including a lack of quality education systems, a failure by governments and the private sector to connect human capital with financial capital, and too many rules and regulations for young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.

Another problem is a mismatch of the skills and qualifications that most youth have with the demands of the labor market.

“Africa has failed to train people for its needs," said Felix Fofana N’Zue is director of the Economic Policy Analysis Unit for the Economic Community of West African States.

"If you go to African universities, you have many graduates in areas such as economics, law, and literature.  But they aren’t learning to solve African problems. Take, for instance, agriculture. Why do our farmers continue to use rudimentary tools when we could train engineers to find a better way to mechanize, to produce our agricultural products more efficiently?”

N’Zue said there are no easy answers when it comes to solving the African youth unemployment problem.  He said that solutions will vary on a country-to-country basis, and warned that any sustainable fixes will take time.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs