Progress for a new generation
The 12th Mo Ibrahim Forum was held in Abidjan from 5 to 7 April, as if in recognition of Côte d’ivoire having achieved, in ten years, the continent’s most significant progress in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). The theme of this year’s edition, “African youth, migration and jobs”, was also an opportunity for the country to highlight the government reforms undertaken in recent years for this very reason: to offer Côte d’ivoire’s young people better prospects.
How to turn a crisis into an opportunity
The observation is compelling :80% of African mi grants base their decision on the lack of jobs and a nun favour able economic environment. This is one of the many statistics revealed at the Mo Ibrahim Forum, which took place in Abidjan in early April.
This 12th edition of the Forum focused on the issue of African migration and was attended by more than 1,200 people. It mobilised African exper t s and politicians who, for three days, channelled their efforts and expertise into identif ying the causes of a crisis which Mo Ibrahim himself believes can be seen as “an opportunity to be seized”. For this to happen, the leaders of each countr y have to “guarantee their own citizens the education and oppor tunities they deser ve, before it is too late”.
In this regard, many speakers repeatedly reiterated the need to “invest more in human capital, especially health and education”.
T he mess age was hear d loud and clear in Côte d’ivoire, where public authorities are already ahead of the game, not waiting for the Forum’s conclusions to take action.
Dur ing the dis cus sions , A bdour ahmane Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, reviewed the many effor ts made by his countr y to put i n pl ace the nece s s ar y tool s f or t he integration of the younger generations into the labour market, including, first and foremost, vocational training.
Improving the basic education system
Through its decentralisation policy, introduced in 2012, Côte d’ivoire has made significant investments in educational f acilities across the countr y. While universities are covered by a specific 18 0 billion CFA fr anc progr amme, the entire school system has undergone ex tensi ve development.
For example, there are cur rently 15 specialist technical education institutions. However this number is set to increase to 3 8 by 2 020. To do this, the public author ities have earmarked a budget of 133 billion CFA francs, once again illustrating their desire to improve the vocational training of young people in or der to boost their employ ment potential . In suppor t of this process, the gover nment has al so decided to invest in fostering access to fir st jobs, through v ar ious t ax incenti ves and the introduc tion of inter nships for young gr aduates.
133 BILLION CFA FRANCS EARMARKED FOR VOCATIONAL TRAINING FOR YOUNG PEOPLE MORE INVESTMENT IN HUMAN CAPITAL, STARTING WITH HEALTH AND EDUCATION
However, its attention is also focused on basic education, in primary and secondary school s, with the building of new junior and senior high schools. This proactive policy has rapidly proved successful, with the enrolment r ate for children aged 6 to 16 exceeding 95% since 2015, compared with less than 75% ten year s ear lier.
Industry, a real source of jobs
To create jobs for this growing and increasingly skilled young population, the Ivorian government is set on industrialising the countr y’s economy, especially in the area of agriculture. “We must attract our young people to the agricultural sector in order to create a new class of agro-entrepreneurs,” stressed Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AFDB), in Abidjan.
Here again, Côte d’ivoire is already aware that local processing of its natural resources is the only way to secure an industrial future, a source of jobs for the population and added value for private companies. Agribusiness alone accounts for three-quarters of the Ivorian manufacturing sector, led by the cocoa sector which locally processes 30% of its exported volumes. Although still far from the 50% targeted in the 2016-2020 National Development Plan (NDP), new tax incentives are expected to be adopted soon to encourage the local processing of cocoa beans.
Despite being Africa’s largest cashew nut producer, Côte d’i voire s till only processes just 10% of the 800,000 tons of cashew nuts it produces each year, spurring the government to take a closer look at the sector, particularly as it already employs 225,000 people. The plastic, chemical and leather sectors are also significant sources of employment, alongside the many other primary and tertiary activities that make the Ivorian economy one of the most diversified in West Africa today.
Local content is the way forward
Côte d’ivoire has established a sound employment policy strategy, detailed in its national plan presented in 2016. It aims to create 200,000 jobs per year by 2020, especially among particularly vulnerable groups such as women and young people. Pre-empting the findings of the Abidjan Forum, the National Employment Policy (NEP) provides for improving the correlation between supply and demand reflected in the labour market, and for streamlining the institutional framework and labour legislation to further support economic activity.
The document also includes improvements to the national statistical system to facilitate a better understanding of events. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, in its repor t, also points out that not only is there a general lack of reliable data available on the continent, but that it is often incomplete and leads to misperceptions that restrict the application of prescribed policies.
CREATE A NEW CLASS OF AGRO-ENTREPRENEURS
The NEP has ensured that this does not happen in Côte d’ivoire and the countr y has already fulfilled some of its promises in support of youth employment, star ting with the establishment of a Youth Employment Agency (YEA) in 2016. It operates as a one-stop shop, with the added bonus of tax incentives, without resor ting to giving priority to citizens, which is what many other African countries have done.
Over the past year, the Ivorian government has been considering introducing quotas reser ved for local mining industr y workers. This trial could then be extended to other sectors and cover all major current or future large-scale projects in the countr y. In addition to directly recruiting a national workforce, local content contributes to the setting up and operation of Ivorian SMES, increasing technology transfers and developing workforce skills. It is now seen by international experts as the essential tool for fostering inclusive growth in a countr y.
Growth and transparency
T he gover nment of Côte d’i v oir e is well aware that, in terms of growth and transparency, it still has a long way to go. The countr y’s robust grow th r ates of recent years – more than 8% on average – have not been enough to lift a broad segment of the population out of pover ty, a problem faced by ever y countr y on the continent. To meet the challenge of pover ty reduction, the government adopted its Priority Action Plan (PAP) to fight pover ty in early 2018.
This mechanism reinforces the many others that have enabled Côte d’ivoire to now post the best progress in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). The country ranked 22 nd in 2018, up from 41st ten years earlier, having succeeded in improving its scores in each of the four categories of the index: Safety& Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.
It is in terms of transparency, democratic par ticipation and educational and health policies that Côte d’ivoire’s scores have made the most progress in ten years. “A ver y positive outcome,” s aid the Mo Ibr ahim Foundation in its conclusions. This is expected to fur ther strengthen Côte d’i voire’s at tr ac ti veness to private investors who will create the Ivorian jobs of tomorrow.
SINCE 2018, A PRIORIT Y ACTION PL AN (PAP) HAS BEEN IN PL ACE TO FIGHT POVERT Y 200,000 JOBS PER YEAR BY 2020, ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
≥ A cocoa paste manufacturing plant.
≥ The Castel bot tling pl ant.
< In 2016, a one-stop Youth Employment Agenc y ( YE A) was established.