Africa Needs More and Better Jobs

During the last day of the special session of the African Union’s Labour and Social Affairs Commission on Friday, African ministers of labour and employment, finalized a declaration and plan on employment, poverty eradication and inclusive development and its monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

These strategies are to be presented to the Heads of State and Government at the AU’s Extraordinary Summit to be held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in September this year. President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who addressed the delegates on the last day of the special session, acknowledged that the problem of unemployment in Africa is complex. “It cannot be understood merely through statistics alone. Other factors must be taken into consideration. For example, many of the employed people in African countries work in vulnerable employment conditions or are underemployed, particularly in the informal economy in both urban and in the rural areas,” he said. “I am further informed that new policy instruments will be proposed with the aim of bringing about an integrated approach in addressing unemployment. The aim is to ensure that more and better jobs are created, particularly for the youth and women, and that social protection is extended to those currently not protected in order to significantly contribute to poverty eradication,” Pohamba said.

The special session, which took place in Windhoek last week, had two main objectives, the first of which was to assess progress made in the implementation of the 2004 Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan of Action on Employment and Poverty Alleviation. The second objective was to examine new policy instruments for the next decade. “It [the 2004 Ouagadougou Declaration] sought to address the structural nature of unemployment in our countries and the challenge of jobless economic growth. The Ouagadougou Plan was indeed ambitious and comprehensive. After ten years, you have come to assess the progress made and to chart a future course of action. In doing so, however, we must admit that progress has been slow,” said Pohamba. According to him despite encouraging and sustained economic growth rates in some African countries and efforts by AU member states over the past decade, growth unfortunately did not translate into the desired job creation. He also noted with concern that unemployment, and in particular youth unemployment remains at stubbornly high and unacceptable levels in many African countries, including Namibia.

Pohamba continued that workers who earn low and insecure incomes experience poor working conditions and are more likely to be less productive and to experience limited access to social security protection. “Similarly,” remarked the president, “many of the full-time wage workers in our countries are trapped in poverty, because of poor wages, lack of employment benefits and the impact of casual labour.” Addressing labour ministers and high ranking government officials from across the continent Pohamba said he is also concerned that many African countries lack adequate skilled personnel, financial resources, capacity for policy coordination, as well as monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that are needed in order to achieve sustainable employment.

Touching on issues closer to home, Pohamba highlighted Namibia’s recent initiatives and developments in the area of employment creation and labour related policies. He also noted that Namibia has made significant progress in establishing well-functioning and inclusive labour market institutions, such as the National Statistics Agency, which was established in 2011, which has introduced an Annual Labour Force Survey since 2012. “Namibia is committed to strengthening our labour market institutions, to expand social security and labour market services, to the informal economy and the rural sector, to improve productivity and to increase the employment of youth and women in line with the Ouagadougou 2004 Plan of Action. We will work with other African countries and within the African Union structures to achieve these laudable goals in order to improve the living conditions of our people,” said Pohamba.

Source : New Era