The Initiative is a response by the AUC, AfDB, UNECA and ILO to the call by African Heads of State and Government to tackle more decisively the youth employment challenge in Africa
The signing ceremony for the Declaration of Intent for the Joint Initiative on Youth Employment in Africa (JYEIA) took place on September 12, 2013 at the Headquarters of the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa. The Initiative is a response by the AUC, African Development Bank (http://www.afdb.org), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the International Labour Organization to the call by African Heads of State and Government, at their Summit in Malabo, Republic of Equatorial Guinea, held in July 2011, to tackle more decisively the youth employment challenge in Africa. It is also a follow-up to the 2004 Ouagadougou Declaration and Action Plan.
The Parties were represented by Mustapha S. Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs; Lamin Barrow, the Bank’s Resident Representative in Ethiopia; and Hans Hofmeijer, Acting Africa Regional Director, ILO; in the presence of Minata Samate, Ambassador of Burkina Faso to Ethiopia and the AUC and ECA; as well as officials of the Regional Economic Communities and members of the public. Providing financial support and technical expertise to promote youth employment at country, sub-regional and continental levels, the JYEIA will focus its interventions on three main areas, namely policy support; design and implementation of programs and projects; knowledge-building and dissemination.
In his remarks at the ceremony, the Bank’s Resident Representative recalled that the 2012 African Economic Outlook, which was devoted to the theme of youth employment, underscored the urgent need for governments to pursue an integrated strategy in order for African countries to translate the “youth bulge” in their populations into a “demographic dividend”.
Barrow reminded the audience of the Bank’s continued commitment to assist its Regional Member Countries promote youth employment and alluded to the timeliness of the JYEI as its seeks to leverage the comparative advantage of the Four Parties to enhance coordination and synergy, as well as to design and implement operations that would effectively tackle the problem of youth employment. Barrow also cited examples of recent Bank initiatives that can be replicated or scaled-up in Africa. These include the Souk At-tanmia initiative for young entrepreneurs in Tunisia; the provision matching grants for enhancing employability of young graduates in Morocco; the Skills Employability and Entrepreneurship Programme in Rwanda; and the Pan African University Centre of Excellence project developed under the auspices of the AUC.
For his part, AUC’s Commissioner for Social Affairs noted the progress made with start-up activities in Burkina Faso and Senegal. He also expressed optimism that the challenge of competing resources for member states will be surmounted in taking forward the implementation of the JYEI.
ILO’s Acting Africa Regional Director, Hans Hofmeijer, emphasized the need for home-grown solutions for promoting employment for the continent’s growing young population, recognizing that the Initiative is adopting a framework approach rather than a one-size-fits-all in developing its support program.