Urgent reforms needed to ensure Africa creates the 450m jobs it needs in 20yrs

08 May 2017

Less than a quarter of the 450-million new jobs needed for Africa’s youth over the next two decades will be created unless urgent reforms to boost productivity and competitiveness are undertaken.

The ‘Africa Competitiveness Report 2017’ reveals that Africa’s working age population is growing faster than jobs are being created and, with the current policies in place, only 100-million new jobs will be created, leaving many youth trying to enter the job market out in the cold on a continent with stagnating levels of competitiveness.

“To meet the aspirations of their growing youth populations, African governments are well advised to enact polices that improve levels of productivity and the business environment for trade and investment,” says World Bank Group trade and competitiveness global practice director Klaus Tilmes.

The report, released at the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa 2017, in Durban last week, jointly compiled by the WEF, the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB), said the reforms included prioritising policy reforms to improve the quality of institutions, infra-structure and skills, as well as the adoption of new technology.

The report highlighted several short-term priority actions to improve competitiveness, including the prioritisation of sector-specific reforms in labour-intensive sectors such as agribusiness, construction and microenterprises; the provision of targeted support to mitigate “acute economic issues” in “vulnerable” regions and populations in “fragile” countries; increasing housing construction through investment, better urban planning and less red tape; and developing open trade policies that can help foster regional economic integration.

Longer-term reforms include the strengthening of institutions to enable faster and more effective policy implementation, as the failure of implementation in the past has often been attributed to weak institutions.

In addition, improved infrastructure is needed to enable greater levels of trade and foster business growth; greater adoption of technology will be critical to boosting lagging productivity; and the development of the “right skills” will help Africa remain competitive in a rapidly changing global economic landscape.

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