Addis Ababa — Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonen urged African countries to double efforts to address problems in creating job opportunities.
The African Job Creation Forum that was held in Addis Ababa for three days as part of the African Integration Day commemoration concluded today.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonen on the occasion called on African countries to double efforts to address the problems in creating job opportunities in the continent.
Among the current 1.4 billion population of Africa, 60 percent is below the age of 25 and this makes the continent the youngest part of the world.
If properly managed, Demeke noted, it is a blessing and a huge asset, because the greater the population, the largest workforce that expands production capacity.
“Unfortunately, the rate of unemployment particularly the unemployment rate of youth and women in Africa is the highest with a serious impact on the standard of living.”
The unemployment challenges that Africans are facing mainly originate from mismanaged labor supply and demand caused by a lack of skilled qualified training tailored to the 21st-century markets, inflation and recession, Demeke stated.
Recurrent conflict and instability that leads to shrink in investment, capital migration, and bankrupcy, faulty job creation planning and unorganized support for Enterprise Development as well as less organized entrepreneurial mindset and weak working culture, weakness in continental integration to respond to the interconnected problems are also the other challenges, he elaborated.
“And we have these challenges, doubling the effort in each African country to address problems in creating job opportunities must be our utmost priority. We need to agree to resolve the problem of a fragmented economy in the continent,” Demeke stressed.
He further pointed out that “in Ethiopia with a population of over 120 million, we are determined to address unemployment, creating 20 million jobs by 2030. We are also expecting to create 3 million jobs annually, 1 million from the current unemployment backlog, and 2 million to absorb the new entrants to the labor market. This is an ambitious but achievable goal.”
Moreover, advocacy platforms like the forum you concluded today, to coordinate and integrate national capacities should be organized every year as we did in Ethiopia since 2020, Demeke said, adding that the Africa jobs summit that “we are laying the foundation for will leave us with plenty of ideas, motivations, and visions to implement agenda 2063.”
Regarding the three-day forum, Demeke said: “I trust that the forum has provided you with an opportunity to debate issues concerning opportunities and challenges in our continental efforts in the job creation domains.”
“As women and youth are not only the majority of the population, the success story of enterprises owned by them gives way to prosperity. Hence, we need to make sure that they have got the necessary policy attention and integrated continental strategic intervention. To this end, Ethiopia in collaboration with the African Union, and partners like AE-Trade will take a leading role to promote advocacy and awareness creation campaigns at the continental level using the African job submit platform.”
The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister has also handed over certificates of appreciation and awards to hundreds of Ethiopian enterprises that provided exemplary services.
“Finally, I want to congratulate the award winners. This recognition will certainly encourage you to do more and positively influence others in our efforts of building a better future.”
African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson, Monique Nsanzabaganwa on her part said Africa has more than 70 percent youth and job creation is critical in the continent.
“These three days were intense, packed with good news, passion, commitment, and pledges,” the deputy chairperson observed.
As the host of this forum, she said AU is “happier that you made the celebration of the 7th of July, Africa Integration Day, more meaningful and we appreciate the AE-Trade, the government of Ethiopia, and everyone who has contributed to the successful job creation forum.”
Meanwhile, the United African Royal Assembly on the occasion pledged support of mobilizing investment to the value of between six to eight billion USD to create between 80 to 125 million jobs over the next 10 to 15 years. There were also other pledges from other institutions.
“We have heard the big figure 80 million 125 million jobs that we are all up to be creating,” the Deputy Chairperson of AU pointed out referring to the pledge made during the forum by a United African Royal Assembly representative.
She noted that “according to the African Union’s targets, 50 percent of this could go should go to women. And the African Union has a target for you, which is 35 percent, but the commitment I heard here, I think we are actually aiming higher than 35 because the youth is actually more or around 70 percent if we are talking about the proportions that we have to keep.
So I look forward to this as a key measure flagship as we work the journey for the next 10 years of the agenda 2063. One of the moon shots of that journey is that we make sure each and every member state has achieved at least the middle -income level by 2033. Hearing what I’m hearing here, I have no doubt that we are going to achieve that, she said.
“We have programs that are aiming to mobilize Finance, Financial inclusion, jobs, employment parity, and quota systems for public and private procurement. And we want at least 80 percent of all the banks in the nations in the 55 countries to be reporting what are their commitments to women, youth, and SMEs”, she said.