The African Union on has re-emphasized the need by African heads of government to embrace concerted efforts towards addressing youth unemployment on the continent.
AU’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Prudence Ngwenya, stated this at a three-day Pan-African Youth Empowerment Conference holding at the body’s headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
The conference, which aims to promote African youth participation and deepen their engagement in the process of shaping the continent’s employment, entrepreneurship and innovation trajectory, has African youth from 47 African countries.
Others are policy makers, employers and development partners, according to Agency report.
Ngweny noted that young people across Africa are facing challenges of finding decent employment and climbing out of poverty.
The official said unemployment is the key challenge facing African young people, which is heightened by mismatch between skills and labour market needs.
Recent figure by the African Development Bank reveals that there are 480 million youth on the continent, and the number is expected to grow to 850 million by 2050.
“With more than 65 per cent of the population being under the age of 35, securing employability and self-employment for young people, achieved through innovative approaches, could be the best weapon to fight against poverty and the numerous associated challenges,” said Ngwenya.
Focusing on employment and entrepreneurship, the conference has been organised by the AU Commission and the SOS Children’s Village International, providing a platform for engagement between high-level officials and young people.
According to Dereje Wordofa, International Director for the Region, SOS Children’s Villages International, about 10 million African young people are entering the job markets every year, and only 3 million are getting wage employment, which shows the challenge is significant.
Dereje said the conference allows young people to share their perspectives with key stakeholders on the opportunities and challenges they face but also, they will explore opportunities for job creation, entrepreneurship and self-reliance.
Deliberations at the conference is expected to lead to the development of an Action Plan for African Youth Employability and Entrepreneurship.