United Nations, Africa must tackle youth unemployment

Friday September 29 2017

The United Nations should focus more on the youth in Africa to fast track socio-economic development.

The population of young people in Africa is growing rapidly, as witnessed by the number of countries getting younger every day.

There are growing numbers of youth with good education but unemployed. Many are not empowered enough to sustain themselves.

The UN should devise strategies to help these young nations.

As rightly stated by Mr Siddharth Chatterjee, the UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya, gender and youth must be at the centre of the development agenda.

The agenda should focus on four key areas: education and skills, empowerment, employment and equity.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Too many resources are required to acquire globally competitive higher education in Africa, while job opportunities are increasingly hard to find.

This has left the youth vulnerable to the effects of global climatic change, human trafficking and terror groups such as al-Shabaab.

Politicians are also taking advantage of this economic vulnerability to misuse the youth.

The numbers are getting grimmer by the day. Take Kenya, youth unemployment is estimated at 40 per cent — higher than in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda combined.

Four in every 10 youth are unemployed, three of whom are graduates.

A insightful piece in the Financial Times says joblessness is an existential threat to Kenya’s future.

UNEMPLOYMENT

To address youth unemployment in Africa, the UN must support member states to integrate youth entrepreneurship in their development agenda.

Africa must start looking at youth as influencers, not just numbers.

Youth entrepreneurship can create jobs and solve some of these challenges. African governments have tried to allocate some resources to this, but the resources are insufficient.

This means that the UN must invest in youth entrepreneurship and technology.

More than two years ago, the UN adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is time that these goals were evaluated.

A powerful article by former President of Ghana, Mr John Mahama, and UN official Siddharth Chatterjee, “Promise or Peril: Africa’s 830 million youth by 2050”, states that youth unemployment could be an economic disaster and might cause a major migrant crisis for the West.

Let’s change Africa for the better.

RAPHAEL OBONYO, via email