According to a new World Bank report, Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa, the rising earning potential among Africa’s growing youth population is a major priority that requires strong action on multiple fronts. Youth now make up the largest share of the population in most African countries and as such, it is more important than ever to facilitate productive job opportunities, whether in the fast-growing modern wage sector, in household enterprises, or on millions of small family-run farms. Doing so could lead to greater prosperity at the household level, and major economic gains for African countries.
The report and corresponding video discuss youth employment challenges in Africa and suggest that young people require basic literacy and numeracy, as well as access to land, financing and training in order to improve their prospects.
Additionally, although the formal sector – made of up larger firms and structured wage jobs – will eventually become Africa’s biggest employer, the report recognizes that nearly 80 percent of people in African countries work in the informal sector, often for very low earnings. This informal sector will continue to employ the majority of young people and as such, the report argues that scaling up support to access opportunities in the informal sector is essential.
As the report explains, youth unemployment is not a simple or one-dimensional challenge. In order to improve prospects, government policies will need to help build human capital and improve the business environment, while productivity must increase in agriculture, household enterprises, and the modern wage sector.
Working toward these goals is closely related to more inclusive economic growth and is aligned with the World Bank’s twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and achieving shared prosperity.