Youth Employment: Let’s walk the talk
Youth unemployment continues to be a persistent problem that Botswana and Africa at large have been grappling with for many years now.
During the recent 3rd Annual SADC Youth Forum held in Malawi, youth unemployment was identified as a ticking time bomb in Africa. The Forum heard that in recent years, the transition from education to work has become more prolonged and unpredictable. In fact, due to different and successive crises, many young people find themselves neither in employment nor in education and training. While between 10 million and 12 million young people enter the workforce each year, only 3.1 million jobs are created. Citizens across 34 African countries regard unemployment as the top problem facing their nations. In the absence of jobs, Africa’s youth present a threat to social cohesion and political stability as demonstrated by the deadly migration to Europe through the Mediterranean sea in search of opportunities. Africa has the youngest population in the world, with almost 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 – a figure expected to double highlighting the importance of creating employment opportunities for Africa’s youth. There is a lot of unexploited potentials and we need to take advantage of the jobs created by the green and blue sectors. Botswana faces the same problem, a lot of graduates find themselves roaming the streets rather than finding employment. A paradigm shift in economic thinking is required to tackle this knotty issue. The number of graduates roaming the streets does not make for an interesting read. The government through the years has recognised the need to create more opportunities, especially for the youth and women through programmes such as Youth Development Fund; Youth Empowerment Scheme et al. This is commendable. But oftentimes government seems to be throwing money at problems and fails to find a lasting solution to youth unemployment and unemployment in general. At more than 20 percent, the rate of unemployment is quite high for a Middle Income Country of 2, 2 million people that boasts a GDP per capita of 7,961.33 USD as at 2019. Diamond mining revenue has stayed this country in good stead over the years and continues to finance the National Budget. But it has become clearly apparent that the country is in dire need of alternative policies to build on the successes achieved since the discovery of diamonds in 1967 at Orapa. The African Union actively promotes the transformation towards an inclusive green economy that generates growth, creates jobs and helps reduce poverty through sustainable management of natural capital.
Opportunities are abound in the green and blue sectors. As stated by Amb. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, the huge opportunities around Africa’s Blue Economy can change the narrative for the continent as an engine for socioeconomic development and industrialisation.