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AfDB Calls for Partnership to Promote Best Practices in Higher Education Policies in Africa


Titled ‘Accelerating the AfDB’s Response to the Youth Unemployment Crisis in Africa’ this African Development Bank (AfDB) publication takes stock of the challenges and responses to youth employment in Africa. The paper proposes a framework to address the crisis as well as the structural needs of the African labor markets. It lays the ground for a joint AfDB- AU-ECA-ILO initiative to support countries to address the growing youth unemployment crisis in Africa.

Africa’s exploding youth population represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the continent. Strong economic growth has not translated in the amount of good quality jobs needed to absorb the 11-12 million young Africans entering the labor market every day. Recent events in North Africa have highlighted the negative effects on society and security that unemployment and underemployment, particularly among the youth can have.

The continent’s youth population boom also holds the kind of potential demographic dividend that benefitted East Asian economies – triggering economic growth. But this will only happen if African countries can provide quality jobs, equity and inclusiveness in economic growth for their expanding populations.

This paper examines the roots of the youth unemployment crisis. It looks at the factors affecting the demand for labor in both the formal and informal sectors and those affecting the supply of labor, such as illiteracy and the mismatch between the education and skills needed and those provided to young people.

In setting out the AfDB’s response, this paper proposes both immediate and longer-term actions to tackle the constraints of the demand and supply of labor in Africa and calls for a regional partnership initiative to review, share and promote best practices in higher education policies on the continent.

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