Civic Engagement Alliance Participated in the Africa Day
On April 13, the yearly Africa Day takes place in Amsterdam. The Africa Day is the annual conference on Africa and international development in the Netherlands. This year’s theme is ‘Migration: African Perspectives’. ICCO and Edukans - members of the Civic Engagement Alliance - give a workshop.
The program of the Africa Day 2019 is now available online atwww.afrikadag.nl. Tickets can be purchased via the website.
Workshop: ‘Wanted: Jobs for African Youth’
ICCO and Edukans, both part of the Civic Engagement Alliance, provide a workshop during the day about creating youth employment in Africa. With an enormously growing potential of young people on the African continent, the demand for sustainable solutions to help them get to work is growing. Dutch development policy currently focuses primarily on combating migration. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that stimulating growth leads to curbing migration. On the contrary, economic growth would lead to an increase in migration. In the light of recent studies on youth employment and job creation, the Civic Engagement Alliance examines the question of what should be done.
Africa: the youngest continent on earth
Africa is the youngest continent on earth. Half of the population of Africa is under the age of 25. The population will increase by half a million fifteen year-olds every year up to 2035. Each year, 18 million jobs are needed to provide employment for this growing group of young people. The lack of employment and study opportunities in combination with bad governance force youth to earn money by taking jobs that are low paid, often in the informal sector. Or to risk their lives on unsafe boats heading for Europe.
Potential in combination of youth and agriculture
Migration is inevitable. According to Civic Engagement Alliance, the emphasis of development policy, however, is too much on countering migration, rather than on shaping it. Organized emigration, of skilled people, instead of an irregular process and the arrival of unskilled people. This requires investment in training opportunities and work experience places for youth. Besides, as can be read in the foregoing, it is clear that we must choose for youth in development programs.
Opportunities lie in particular in the agricultural sector. Africa’s agricultural sector has enormous untapped potential. According to the World Bank, Africa has more than enough virgin farmland to sustain the growth of the agricultural sector. Today the average age of African farmers is 60. If youth have the opportunity to develop themselves in this sector and to build up agribusinesses this will provide enormous impetus for other sectors too. Opportunities lie in improving production through the use of new technologies in agriculture, such as ICT for better weather forecasts and precision agriculture. In this way, agriculture can become an attractive sector for youth.
4-step approach for youth employment
To set up programs that actually bring about change in youth employment, the Civic Engagement Alliance believes in the following approach:
- Guiding youth to work: youth need technical and social skills that are linked to the labor market. This requires qualitative and innovative vocational education and cooperation with employers' organizations, so that youth can gain work experience through, for example, an internship.
- Guiding youth to self employment: youth must have access to finance for start-up capital to start their own business. And they must be able to receive guidance, for example in writing a business plan. This can be done through business incubators.
- Guiding SMEs to growth: businesses are the biggest job catalyst. Emerging companies can create jobs. However, they are hindered in their growth because they are also the ones who have poor access to finance. This is because they are too big for microcredit and too small for investments from banks.
- Enabling environment: conditions must be created in local laws and regulations to make it easier for youth to start their own businesses. In addition, youth must be given a voice in decision-making. We contribute to movements in which youth emancipate and make themselves heard towards governments.
Ultimately, African countries must take responsibility themselves for promoting youth employment. But with the support of Dutch and other European governments, international civil society organizations such as ICCO and Edukans can contribute with training, knowledge, (investment) capital and market access.