AfDB to provide $28.92 million to boost youth employment and training in Côte d’Ivoire

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has signed a loan agreement for US $21.34 million, together with a grant agreement protocol for the sum of $7.56 million. Both agreements relate to the program to support improving youth employability and integration, approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors on December 4, 2013.

“This ceremony is the outcome of a process that began in April 2013, during development of the Bank’s Côte d’Ivoire Intervention Strategy 2013-2017 ,” explained Agnès Soucat, AfDB Director for Human Development, during the signing ceremony. “It is vital to develop an education system that is flexible and responsive to labour market needs in order to improve employability and reduce the risks of unemployment affecting many young Ivorians,” she added.

Some 772,000 young Ivorians, aged 15 to 34, are currently unemployed. Around half of them have no qualifications. In 2012, the unemployment rate for young people with higher education qualifications was 38 per cent. For those with professional training, it was 23 per cent. This compares with an average of 12 per cent among young people over all. Furthermore, around 27 per cent of local businesses believe that the shortage of good quality labour limits their competitiveness. That figure is considerably higher than the average for the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) zone, which is 20 per cent.

The program supports improving the employability of those with qualifications from professional training and higher education, along with integration of unemployed young people. Known as the Youth Employability and Insertion Support Programme (PAAEIJ), the program seeks to support the Côte d’Ivoire Government in its ongoing efforts to make skills development and the promotion of employment the foundations of sustained and inclusive economic growth. This is in line with the goals established in the National Development Plan 2012-2015. In particular, the PAAEIJ contributes to the reform policies that the Government is determinedly pursuing. Such policies are intended to improve the relevance of training, education sector governance and the availability of job opportunities for vulnerable populations.

The program will be delivered in two instalments for 2013 and 2014. It will facilitate promotion of the following: (i) involvement of the productive sector in training, by establishing joint public-private steering groups, as well as incentives, and with a review of the grants policy, in order to guide students towards the priority sectors; (ii) better evaluation of the economic relevance of training, to be achieved through the implementation of monitoring mechanisms for professional integration in three professional training establishments; (iii) routine use of quality assurance, and an improvement in the governance of higher education, with performance contracts between the State and public universities; (iv) implementation of the national employment policy and creation of direct employment for 2,000 young people without qualifications, at least 40 per cent of them young women; and (v) improving sector coordination through establishing a coordination procedure between the three Ministries of Education, Training and Employment.

These aims are fully in line with those set out in the Bank Strategy for 2013-2022, as well as those in the Human Capital Strategy 2014-2018, currently in development. The first pillar of that strategy is founded on skills development for employment and competitiveness. The PAAEIJ also reflects the New Education Model for Africa (NEMA). The Bank recommends this model as a means of facing the challenge of youth employability and employment through skills development and technology.

“These financial interventions will enable the Ivorian Government to continue its efforts to provide integration opportunities to the long-term unemployed. They support implementation of the national employment policy and job creation for vulnerable young people,” said Idrissa Bayo, Ivorian Ambassador to Tunisia. Bayo was expressing his satisfaction at the solidarity among the international financial community, and especially that of the Bank, with regard to Côte d’Ivoire.

The PAAEIJ comes as an addition to the various forms of support already afforded to Côte d’Ivoire by the Bank. These include eight actions in the social sector since 1979. This program represents the first budgetary sector support in Côte d’Ivoire, and the ninth action of the Bank in the social sector.