Africa's youth population is projected to double from the current 480 million to 840 million by 2050. Unless employment opportunities are created for them, this rapidly growing youthful population could give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges.
The urgency among policymakers to tackle youth employment in Africa was underlined at the meeting last week in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, of ministers in charge of finance, youth, employment and education of the Central Africa Region.
The ministers and officials from Cameroon, Madagascar, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo attended the meeting in Yaoundé on 7 February to discuss the African Development Bank's (AfDB) ‘Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy’, which was adopted in May 2016.
The high-level meeting aimed to improve policies, strategies, programs and projects focused on youth employment and entrepreneurship in the region. The conference also helped create synergies between the AfDB and government officials, the private sector, youth organizations, development partners, civil society organizations and other key stakeholders.
In his welcoming address, the AfDB’s Resident Representative in Cameroon, Racine Kane, reiterated the Bank’s commitment to finding resolution to this ever-important issue of youth unemployment and adopting a coordinated approach through their ‘Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy’.
Over 200 participants attended the high-level event. The ‘Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy’ was presented during the meeting and participants had the opportunity to get acquainted with its flagship programs. Panelists explored possibilities for sustainable solutions to the youth unemployment crisis, its medium- and long-term impacts and the creation of a better business climate that will lead to decent jobs for youth.
In his opening remarks, Louis Paul Motaze, the Cameroonian Minister of Economy, Planning and Development, recognized the importance of youth issues and that "unemployment exposes youth to many perils", impacting "their talent, and jeopardizing the country's economy and stability."