We live in a very challenging time in Africa. It may not be a peculiar issue though. The effect of youth unemployment is everywhere across the world. The impact may be severe in developing Countries because there is no palliative measure as we have in Developed world. In every developing Countries and especially in Africa, the tell tales of youth employment are visible everywhere. It shows in youth restiveness.
This is obvious because youths have strong energy that needs to be channeled. Youth cannot be idle. They want to be active. Their activity can be positive or negative. We can see the danger of their idleness manifest in different ethnic militia organizations. The dreaded religious sect known as Boko Haram has more youths as members than senior adults. Youth unemployment has also increased the level of corruption in employment markets across Africa. When the supply is more than the demands, the market suffers a glut and it allows operators to be involved in sharp malpractices the industry should not have permitted in the first instance.
Take for instance the Immigration recruitment exercise in Nigeria where many of the applicants died while trying to gain entrance into the selection exams venue. Besides that, we also heard a lot of sharp malpractices of officials collecting money from the desperate applicants. Recently, we have also seen youths been rented as crowds that are used for politically motivated rallies. About a week ago, we saw on a National Television Station in Nigeria (NTANEWS24) where youths rented as part of the crowds to counter the legitimate activities of Bring Back Our Girls campaigners in Abuja were fighting over money meant to be shared by all.
We have examples across Africa too. Recently, there was an outcry against top Kenyan Police Force officials with regards to shady recruitment exercise that was conducted recently in the Country. In Malawi, we have also monitored an outcry against what many considered as ’50/50′ syndrome.
In all these, we found out the huge effects of youth unemployment across the continent. Unfortunately, governments, especially in Nigeria, keep pushing out data to the contrary with claims that employments opportunities are being created in Millions. One may need to ask if it is ghosts that are taken up the jobs created. According to statistics, over 23% of youths are unemployed.
Another statistics by United Nations states that Youth Population is increasing in the sub Sahara Africa.
Yet there is no deliberate action steps to address this issue before it becomes a full blown catastrophe. Governments across Africa, except few, actually know what to do and are committed to this. With huge population in Nigeria, government, Political, Policy formulators cannot afford the luxury of treating this issue with left hand.
Even with the initiatives been set up by many state governments across Nigeria like ‘Yes oo’ in Osun State Nigeria and other states across South West Nigeria, the meagre amount being paid to participants, that is less than a hundred Dollar per month, in most cases, will not fully engage these teaming youth. Meanwhile, ethnic militias, crime groups like kidnappers, money rituals, drug peddlers offer great attraction to the youth.
The federal government of Nigeria’s Subsidy Reinvestment Projects-‘SURE-P’, may not also suffice. Though commendable as a first step in the right direction. To address the issue, there is urgent need for education policy, curriculum redirection. Education curriculum still prepares most students for white collar jobs and not focused on entrepreneurship development. We still place much emphasis on paper qualification over skill acquisition.
The effect or impact of this is still there for anyone to see especially in Nigeria where technical colleges, Polytechnics and other colleges still suffer from lack of adequate attention from government’s support. In few cases where education curriculum has been redrafted, many of these great documents are gathering dust on the shelves as incoming administration in most cases will not want to continue a project of ‘perceived political opponent’.
There is no sustainability in government policies and strategies. We waste a lot of money on documentation and policy creation without any care on its implementation and execution processes.
As long as Nigeria and Africa Youths continue to be idle, unemployed or under employed, the society may continue to witness many of the challenges we are still faced with.
Governments at different level must put in a place a long term strategy with some short term deliverables. There must be a commitment to this. World Bank must also help in this regard. It should stop given frivolous loans which do not aid poverty alleviation or youth employment. Before new loans are granted, demands must be made on the effective utilization of the previous loans. It should also be actively involved in the effective utilization, monitoring of the loan to ensure money borrowed are channeled to the purposes they are meant for.