AU Member States Engage in Labour Dialogue in Windhoek

UNEMPLOYMENT and under-employment are still at high levels, in particular among youth and women.

Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Doreen Sioka said this during her welcoming remarks at the opening of the Session of the Labour and Social Affairs Commission of the African Union (AU) meeting in Windhoek yesterday.

Sioka added that under-employment currently stands at 75% in many AU member states, adding that the continent should provide solutions to these employment challenges in its policies, using legal and institutional mechanisms.

The three-day session that has attracted 400 delegates from 54 AU member states, aims to assess the continent’s employment, poverty eradication and inclusive development of the 2004 Ouagadougou Declaration and Employment Promotion and Poverty Alleviation in Africa.

The session, which is being held under the theme: Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Development, will be tackling issues around Youth and Women’s Employment, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth, Informal Economy, Social Economy and Rural Employment, Productivity, Competitiveness and Social Dialogue, Labour Market Governance, Labour Migration and Regional Economic Integration, Partnership and Funding for implementation of employment policies.

Objectives of the meeting include consensus on current and future challenges of labour markets and policy perspectives at all levels. The session will also adopt a Revised Policy Framework for the next decade on Labour, Employment and Social Protection: A new Declaration, Plan of Action and Follow-up Mechanism.

AU Director of the Department of Social Affairs Olawale Maiyegun said the theme of the session was chosen out of the growing evidence and recognition of a harsh employment challenge facing the youth and women in Africa. “Although Africa maintained a mean growth rate of 5,5% for more than a decade, this did not translate properly into significant creation of jobs and reduction of poverty,” he said, adding that the continent needs to accentuate its effort in simultaneously pursuing its economic development and expanding its social progress for better living and decent working conditions for its inhabitants, particularly the working poor in the formal economy. Maiyegun pointed out that the assessment of the 10-year implementation of Ouagadougou 2004 reveals uneven achievements.

“While modest progress was achieved in areas such as incorporation of employment policies into development plans, efforts at labour market information system and uneven social protection, there are still many shortcomings such as the weakness of labour market institutions, high level of youth and women unemployment, the absence of operational coordination mechanism at national levels, limited and inadequate funding of employment policies, among others,” he said.

He stressed that Africa’s persistent high level of unemployment prevailing in the informal economy and rural sector calls for a high priority in policy settings for the next ten years.

Participants in attendance include the Pan African Parliament, AU’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), economic communities, international partners, non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations.

Source : The Namibian