The African Development Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, addressed the issues of youth employment and migration in a speech delivered before the 34th session of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, at the Africa Union Summit in Addis Ababa on January 29, 2016.
“We must take a proactive stance and not just manage today’s migration crisis – but avoid tomorrow’s,” Adesina said. “We must invest in building a future for Africa’s youth in which they can participate with pride and prosper. Stable, high quality employment for Africa’s youth is the answer.”
The agenda of the NEPAD meeting discussed the issue of skills and migration, and particularly youth migration.
The AU Chairperson and Co-chairman of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, Robert Mugabe, observed that “the migration of African youths is an issue of serious concern that has to be addressed urgently. Not only does it dent our image as Africa, but also stymies our economic development endeavours.
“We cannot continue to allow a situation where our able-bodied men and women embark on risky and perilous journeys across the oceans in search of a supposedly ‘better world,’” he said.
Mugabe urged the NEPAD Agency to assist member states in creating facilities to equip African youths with the necessary skills to guarantee them employment opportunities.
“In addition, the Agency is called upon to assist in the creation of small industries and businesses targeting women and youths so that the need to migrate is minimized. Africa needs to benefit from its critical human resource, the young people, whom we must nurture to enable their meaningful participation in national development efforts,” he said.
Addressing the issue of youth migration, AfDB President Adesina said that “Africa’s pervasive lack of economic opportunity for the youth also fuels migration. Sometimes it is internal migration, where the youth leave rural areas for urban centres, putting a strain on our cities and still not finding opportunity. Sometimes it is external migration to Europe and beyond.
“I am proud to announce that the African Development Bank, in collaboration with the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa, is currently developing a Jobs for Africa’s Youth Initiative as the centerpiece of our effort to improve the quality of life for all Africans. Our goal is to equip Africa’s youth to realize their economic potential and drive inclusive growth across the continent. The Jobs for Africa’s Youth initiative will focus on creating jobs for rural youths via agriculture, develop a new generation of young graduates for commercial agriculture and agribusiness (Agripreneurs), develop Skills Enhancement Zones which will link industrial clusters with young graduates for skills development for the labor market and develop a new generation of young ICT entrepreneurs for Africa. They will be supported with business incubation and financing facilities to grow their businesses,” he said.
“We expect that the Jobs for Africa’s Youth Initiative – which will work across all African countries – will reach over 50 million youths over a 10-year period and stimulate the creation of 25 million jobs. It will add an additional $30 billion to African economies. More importantly, it will help us to stem the tide of migration within Africa and into Europe. We will keep Africa’s youth in Africa by expanding economic opportunities. This will help Africa to turn its demographic asset into an economic dividend,” he concluded.
The African Development Bank President also took an active part at many events organized in the framework of the 26th African Union Summit on the theme “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on Women Rights”, including the Special Summit of Heads of State and Government Participating in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APR Forum), the Plenary Session of AU Assembly, and a Special Luncheon of Heads of State and Government, which recognized the collective effort in fighting Ebola through the deployment of health workers in West Africa.
Adesina also positioned the Bank as a key player by leveraging resources to support the African countries in implementation of Agenda 2063 and broadened the dialogue with African Heads of State and development partners on “the High Fives” and the New Deal on Energy for Africa.
“The African Development Bank stands fully ready to work with African Leaders to achieve these development goals. We need your leadership. We need you as advocates. We need you as drivers for change. Together we will Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the Quality of life for Africans. We will jointly achieve the High 5s for Africa,” he said.