See Article By PATRICK MCGROARTY from Wall Street Journal Online
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania—Countries in Africa will need to create jobs more rapidly to sustain strong economic growth, as the number of young people in the region rises, a report by leading international organizations said Monday.
The number of Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 will double by 2045, according to the African Economic Outlook released by the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the U.N. Development Programme. At the moment, even leading African economies are showing few signs that they are prepared to absorb those youths into the workforce, the report said.
According to the International Labor Organization, the unemployment rate in many African countries tops 20%. In South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy, the rate is 25.2%. And it is worse among young people—60% of the unemployed workforce across Africa is under the age of 24.
“The continent is experiencing jobless growth,” African Development Bank chief economist Mthuli Ncube said in a release accompanying the report. “That is an unacceptable reality on a continent with such an impressive pool of youth, talent and creativity.”
The report forecast that Africa’s economy will grow 4.5% this year and 4.8% in 2013. But much of that growth will be in commodity-rich countries that have seen booming business for their crude oil, like Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, or coal and natural gas deposits, like Mozambique. The results have yet to trickle down toward broad material improvement for increasingly young populations, which is threatening social cohesion and political stability in countries that aren’t tackling their unemployment challenges, the report said.
To correct the situation, the report recommended that countries encourage rapid private-sector growth, particularly in the informal economy and agricultural jobs that still dominate many isolated African countries.
Improving education is also crucial, the report said, as is expanding countries’ manufacturing and service sectors to wean them off unsustainable proceeds from commodity exports.
“Export diversification beyond raw-material and private-sector development are important to mitigate the continent’s susceptibility to external shocks, but that takes time,” said UNECA’s director of economic development, Emmanuel Nnadozie.
There are signs that Africa is already moving toward diversification, with telecommunications, trade and service sectors growing strongly off an extremely small base, the report said.