UN official calls for heavy investment to address youth unemployment in Africa

There is need for heavy investment in key sectors to address youth unemployment in Africa, an UN official has said.

Countries across the continent are not investing enough in youth development and their skills, said Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), at the opening of YouthConnekt Africa Summit.

“More effort needs to be done to invest in our young people,” said Eziakonwa.

African countries can accelerate investment in young people towards the transformation of the continent with more partnerships, she said.

The annual gathering connecting youth from across Africa and beyond this year focuses on connecting skills development to meet emerging market opportunities to address the growing youth employment demand in Africa.

At the opening ceremony, Rwandan President Paul Kagame urged the youth to seize opportunities.

Hosted by the Rwandan government in partnership with the UNDP, the three-day summit attracts about 10,000 participants, including policymakers, business leaders and young innovators from nearly 100 countries in Africa and other continents. Over 20 youth ministers attend the summit.

The summit provides a platform for all partners involved in youth development to synergize policies, programs and partnerships that will connect youth for continental transformation.

Of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another one-third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in paid employment, said an African Development Bank report released in 2016.

The youth in Africa face roughly double the unemployment rate of adults, with significant variation by country, said the report.