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Decade for Decent Work in Africa

In Addis Ababa, The International Labor Organization (ILO) is holding its 11th African Regional Meeting. About 300 participants are attending the meeting to launch what’s called the first-ever “Decade for Decent Work in Africa.”

Hans Hofmeyer is the ILO’s deputy regional director for Africa. From the Ethiopian capital, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the ‘decade for decent work.”

He says, “It means that the African countries have set themselves about 10 years to reach a certain number of goals and targets in terms of improving working conditions in Africa. Increasing not only the number of jobs, but also the quality the jobs. Jobs that comply with certain fundamental principles and rights at work that provide a certain level of safety at…the workplace. That provide…at least a minimum level of basic social security that provides an opportunity for both employers and workers to organize themselves, to have a voice.”

The meeting also deals with such issues as poverty, HIV/AIDS, child labor, women entrepreneurship and youth unemployment, among others.

“The ILO argues basically that you need economic growth in order to create jobs. Everybody agrees on that. But simple economic growth is not enough. There has been economic growth in Africa for the last few years, about an average of five percent every year. But it has not led to the creation of sufficient jobs, So, what we argue is that you need to create an awareness among both government and the private sector that if you want the country’s economy to grow on a sustainable basis, you have to take into account the employment aspect,” he says.

Hofmeyer says that one way of doing that is to support small business, which faces many obstacles, including over regulation and corruption. Another is public works projects, which uses labor to create public infrastructure as the United States did during the depression.