Accelerating the AfDB’s Response to the Youth Unemployment Crisis in Africa

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This paper was prepared as a background paper for the Joint Youth Employment Initiative for Africa which was launched in 2011 by the AfDB, African Union, ILO and UNECA. The objective of this initiative is to support Regional Member Countries (RMCs) in addressing the growing youth unemployment crisis in Africa. This paper was primarily a response to: (i) the Board’s concerns on high unemployment in the continent, particularly among the youth (ii) the need for a coherent Bank perspective for the high-level seminar on “youth unemployment and inclusive growth” at the 2011 annual meetings; (iii) the need for integration of job creation issues in Bank operations as per the review of the Medium-Term Strategy 2008-2012; (iv) the immediate crisis in youth unemployment in light of the uprisings in North Africa; (v) the need to strengthen AfDB’s collaboration with governments, development partners and the private sector to build capacity and develop both regional and country-specific strategies; and (vi) (last but not least) the opportunity for harnessing the demographic dividend for sustainable growth and development. This paper takes stock of the challenges and responses to youth unemployment in Africa and proposes a framework to address the immediate and urgent needs generated by the crisis as well as the structural needs of the African labor markets. In particular, it proposes to (i) realign Bank operations to address youth unemployment; (ii) scale up the Bank’s assistance to RMCs in developing new projects and programs addressing youth unemployment; and (iii) contribute to developing the analytical underpinnings of these programs, building knowledge on labor markets and youth unemployment issues in Africa.


Agnes Soucat, Ginette Mueta Nzau, Joao Cunha-Duarte, Nawsheen Elaheebocus

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