By Staff Reporter

Over 540 million people out of 1.3 billion in Africa are aged 15 to 24, making the continent home to the world’s largest youth population.
But Africa has no jobs for this highly agile youth population and that’s a big problem.
But an even bigger problem is Afro-phobia and stringent mobility requirements within the African continent that hamper trade and employment opportunities for young people.
To address this challenge, young people from all 55 member states of the African Union gathered in Kampala, Uganda from 4 to 9 July.
They came from civil society, business, parliaments, education and religious bodies to figure out how to deal with this and other challenges faced by young people in the African continent.
The get together was organised as a symposium by the AU members’ voluntary self-regulatory instrument – African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in partnership with the Ugandan government.
Professor Eddy Maloka, the Chief Executive Officer of the APRM, said the symposium was a significant achievement because it provided a platform for young people themselves to reflect on these challenges.
He said this was especially so in addressing challenges related to mobility and ease of movement.
“Mobility and Afro-phobia are among major challenges in securing employment in other African countries, particularly excessive visa restrictions which affect Africa’s youth.
“It was for this reason that the APRM is committed to supporting efforts towards the realisation of governance policies aimed at achieving free movement of persons in accordance with the laws and procedures of Member States,” he said.
Maloka said free movement was essential as Africa needs innovative, inclusive, and globally connected Information and Communication Technology solutions to address its huge unemployment problems.
According to a United Nations special report on youth and employment, young people account for 60% of all of Africa’s jobless population.
In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate is 25% but is far greater in Southern Africa, with 51% of young women and 43% of young men not working.
This picture is glimmer in South Africa where more than 70% of young people cannot find work. This is the highest of any G20 country, followed by Brazil with about 30,5%.
In contrast, Japan’s youth unemployment rate was the lowest in the world at roughly 4,5%.
There is no unique determinant of the youth employment problem in the African region but the pool of factors contributing to rising unemployment among the youth which creates political disputes in the region. In sub-Saharan Africa is the majority of potentially employable active youth regularly suffer from under-employment and poor decent working conditions if they can find work.
Jemima Idinoba, a researcher with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) based in Ethiopia, told the symposium that they have partnered with the African Union Commission and others, including the APRM, to encourage Member States to adopt policies that harnessed migration for economic development.
She said they were working to partner with youth ambassadors across the continent to help advocate for the adoption of free movement of persons laws by governments.
This sentiment was widely accepted by other attendees.
Among other issues, they lamented the slow progress in achieving a framework that facilitated mobility and the protection of refugees and vulnerable migrants.
The symposium heard about the need for greater space for young people to influence policies that impact their lives such as the ongoing implementation of the AU African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the 2018 AU Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment, which has received only four of the 15-country ratifications needed to operationalise it.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni opened the symposium by urging African youths to get acquainted with the idea of market integration and shun the continent’s persistent dependency syndrome, the African Newspage reported.
“Africa must start producing goods and services which will not only be viable for intra-African export but could also be exported to other parts of the world,” he was quoted as saying.
Museveni beseeched the youth to imbibe the spirit of Pan Africanism, which he described as the only pathway for the youth to contribute to the creation of prosperity and stability and end the security challenges ravaging parts of the continent.
“If African problems must be solved, there has to be political unity and for prosperity and strategic security, patriotism, Pan Africanism, social-economic transformation and democracy must be prioritised,” he said.
The theme for this year’s youth conference – a third session of its kind organised by the APRM – was: “Repositioning the Youth Agenda for a Transformative Continent.”

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