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The strong growth of the African population constitutes an asset for the continent if governments implement efficient policies regarding education and growth that can turn into decent jobs.
That was the conclusion of a meeting which took place on May 28, 2013 in Marrakech, in the context of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Annual Meetings under the theme “Demographic Dividend or Time Bomb?”
“Very often, we ask the governments to assure jobs to young people, but the private sector should also assume its responsibility within this context,” said Maria Kiwanuka, the Ugandan Minister of Finance, during the seminar.
According to her, nowadays, the cooperation between government and private sector is crucial. The private sector should development a risk-taking culture with diversified companies that can create jobs while governments should create conditions to develop human capital, namely by improving the fiscal and legal frameworks.
To illustrate her point, the Ugandan Minister referred to a law which should be presented to the Parliament in Kampala soon and will allow the implementation of a credit facility for the purchase of land or the creation of companies in order to develop private initiative and lead individuals to the creation of their own companies.
Other intervening parties have greeted this initiative, highlighting that in the current context most African countries are confronted with the challenge of absorbing a rising number of young people arriving in the job market. It is estimated that between 10 and 12 million young people should be absorbed by the job market in Africa, every year.
“Young people should benefit from specialized training and should be employed in a productive manner,” declared World Bank Vice-President Célestin Monga, estimating that this is crucial for this growing population to be an asset and take an active part in the continent’s growth.
Currently, the adjustment of the education offer to the job market demands is a necessity, if we want to turn this sector of the population into a creative and performing youth, similar to what happened in certain countries in Asia, Monga said.
His opinion was shared by Bineta Diop, President of the NGO Femmes Africa Solidarité, who estimates that “African countries need wise policies to offer young people possibilities of employment and, through that, enable the country to get a profit from development opportunities presented to the African continent.”