“Africa’s large youth population presents an enormous opportunity for development”, said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “Harnessing the potential of Africa’s youth by investing in education, skills development, and other social initiatives can reap enormous dividends and spur the continent’s development.”
Helen Clark made her remarks during the opening of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), a conference held regularly to promote high-level policy dialogue between Japan, African leaders, and development partners. UNDP has been a co-organiser of TICAD for more than two decades.
At this year’s TICAD conference, UNDP’s new Africa Human Development Report will be launched. It focuses on accelerating gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa. Lower economic growth because of gender inequality was a key point highlighted in the Administrator’s remarks.
The report finds that sub-Saharan Africa loses an average of USD 95 billion annually from the gender gap in labour force participation alone, and that African women achieve only 87 per cent of the human development outcomes of men, jeopardizing achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063.
Helen Clark also highlighted progress in recent years, particularly in the field of education.
“Africa’s growing youth population has more access to education than ever before,” she said. “By 2030, close to sixty per cent of 20-24 year olds – or 137 million people – will have had secondary education compared to 42 per cent in 2012. Trends like these are contributing to a growing pool of skilled workers.”
The Administrator praised the impact the partnerships promoted by TICAD have made in supporting human development in Africa.
“Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, averaging five per cent growth per year since 2000, and many countries are also experiencing fast rising human development,” she said. “The TICAD partnership has contributed to these trends, including by supporting access to education, health services, water and sanitation, and supporting entrepreneurship for youth and the facilitation of trade.”
TICAD VI is hosted by the Government of Kenya and is co-organized by the Government of Japan, UNDP, the World Bank, the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and the UN Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (UNOSAA). Emphasizing UNDP’s objective of mobilizing support for Africa-owned development initiatives, TICAD VI marks the first summit in the series to take place in Africa.
“I sincerely thank the Government of Kenya for its hospitality, and acknowledge the Government of Japan’s unwavering support for Africa, and also its strong partnership with UNDP,” concluded Helen Clark.