Global Youth Unemployment is a serious issue which most countries are grappling with. Unfortunately its something that does not receive sufficient attention that it should.
In Africa, the situation is even more critical as even larger economies like those of South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Kenya have sizable youth unemployment rates (See here) that won’t go away.
The problem needs to be tackled by both the private sector and national governments, with targeted programmes that foster job creation and that give incentives to companies which employ and train young people. However, for poorer countries in Africa, the cost of such programmes is something that must be measured and carefully balanced with the return that is delivered therefrom. Otherwise, it’s possible to pour lots of scarce government resources into important programmes, but which do not deliver a justifiable return.
There are several ways in which this can be done, and various models have been developed over the years and tested that provide guidance as to how to measure the impact of youth-centred programmes. In practice, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa are not measuring the impact their Youth-centric programmes are having, which creates a different set of problems.
However, while the COVID-19 pandemic will make it harder for some developing countries to borrow money on international money markets, arguably there are also opportunities it has created.
One such opportunity has been the number of home-made contraptions which some enterprising young people across the continent have been developing in response to the pandemic.
This minimally calls for National governments to set aside resources to explore the potential of developing such innovations. If a specialist research institution for the field of the innovation doesn’t exist, it may be a case of identifying a University or private company that works in the field, and sponsoring the young person to be aligned with that University or company.
An intervention may also involve putting together a Cooperative that pools expertise and input from various groups, companies and specialists to offer advice on topics from Marketing to Intellectual Property, and map a way forward as to how best such technologies can be exploited.
And such innovations do not necessarily have to be targeted to a foreign market. Even products developed for local markets can be financial successes, and create employment for young people.