There is no unique determinant of the youth employment challenge in the African region. Rather, a combination of factors contributes to compound a situation that has become a top political priority for the region.
In sub-Saharan Africa, unemployment rates remain relatively low, as the vast majority of employable active youth cannot afford not to work. However, these youth regularly suffer from under-employment and lack of decent working conditions. Of the 38.1 per cent estimated total working poor in sub-Saharan Africa, young people account for 23.5 per cent. Young girls tend to be more disadvantaged than young men in access to work and experience worse working conditions than their male counterpart, and employment in the informal economy or informal employment is the norm.
In North Africa, unemployment rates (among a generally more educated labour force) are quite high and projected to remain high over the next five years. Unemployment can arguably be considered to be at the root of the Arab Spring uprisings. At the same time, labour force participation rates for women are the second lowest in the world.
In Kenya, the rate is capped at least 39.1%, Tanzania at 24% while Uganda has the lowest at 18%. According to the report, the impressive score by Uganda is attributed to the fact that most young people have delved into agriculture hence bridging the gap between job opportunities in the formal and informal job sectors.
The UN body, however, expressed optimism that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda, premised on the provision of quality health services, affordable housing, manufacturing and food security, would create a pool of job opportunities.