Policy highlights:

  • Our ability to reap a ‘demographic dividend’ depends on the existence of a youth bulge as well as productive economic activities that make use of that bulge for development. Economic growth in African countries has often been resource intensive and failed to increase employment opportunities. In a workshop held on 15 May 2017, over 60 academics, students, business people and development practitioners discussed the challenge that African societies face in reimagining their economies and social policies in light of demographic pressure. Two main conclusions can be drawn from the discussion:
  1. Development is destabilizing – Development is often a political promise about the future for certain groups. However, if development only exists in the distant future, populism and political violence can emerge. Hence, what we are witnessing might not be due to a lack of growth, but a reaction to forms of growth deemed morally reprehensible or corrupt. Development is not about the presence or absence of growth, but reflects a power struggle over who gets to determine what is legitimate and what is not.
  2. We need to connect youth employment programmes with broader strategies for economic transformation. The demand side of the labour market needs more attention. Private firms should be confronted to engage in the kinds of (risky) economic activities that would require a certain level of skills. In addition, we should consider the complexity of formal entrepreneurship as related to access to markets and services and the role of useful connections, instead of losing sight of broader strategies for economic development by promoting entrepreneurship as the only answer. Job creation programmes that focus merely on training or self-employment among youth close down the space for structural economic transformation and individualize the structural failure of neo-liberalism on the African continent. Attention should be shifted away from ‘supply side’ programmes towards an approach that examines the interplay between skills and broader economic strategies to absorb those skills.
  3. Policymakers should see economic development as a holistic process which can result in social dislocation and be honest about the distribution of benefits and harm across society – otherwise, they will not be able to manage the demographic and economic pressures facing African societies.
Connected themes
Share this post

Related items

Six key insights for green jobs for youth in Africa

The African green transition has the potential to create a plurality of job opportunities that help tackle the negative consequences of climate change: green jobs. To find out what is needed to facilitate green jobs for young people in Africa, INCLUDE and Palladium engaged in a collaborative research project in the context of the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment.

Siri profile picture
youth at work 2 pager
Youth @ Work: 5 pathways for change

How to address the African missing job crisis through green and digital jobs, while assuring that none is left behind? INCLUDE's recently published evidence synthesis paper series provides a number of potential solutions: they were discussed in the webinar series Youth@Work, from which we present five key insights.

Maya Turolla Profile
AERC Regional Policy Forum summary

The AERC hosted a virtual Regional Policy Forum on 28 March 2022. The forum brought together key stakeholders who play important roles in shaping new research findings, paving new policy directions, and initiating innovative practices in the areas of youth and employment.

Getting up to speed with inclusive development

The INCLUDE team’s reading list: March 2022 Every month we share with our readers a…

Identifying Economic Sectors to Create Employment for Youth in Africa: key findings from selected country cases

Growth Sectors for Youth Employment (GSYE) is an African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) collaborative research…