Africa’s future prosperity is intricately tied to its youth and women, a narrative underscored by the recent discussions at the African Economic Research Consortium’s (AERC) 59th Biannual Plenary Session. The focal point? The transformative power of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), coupled with educational advancements, in nurturing economic growth and fostering employable skills among its burgeoning youth population.
At the core of this dialogue was the recognition of the immense potential held by Africa’s youth, juxtaposed against the stark reality of underemployment. Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury & Economic Planning Ministry, aptly highlighted the dichotomy: millions entering the job market annually, yet only a fraction finding gainful employment.
Ndung’u emphasized the need to unlock this latent potential by nurturing entrepreneurial and leadership skills from an early age. The sentiment resonated across the session, echoing the imperative for governments and private sectors to collaborate in creating job avenues, offering mentorship, and ensuring access to digital skills, essential in a rapidly evolving job landscape.
Education emerged as a cornerstone in this pursuit, with a clarion call to align curricula with STEM-related courses, acknowledging the role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in enhancing employability and fostering innovation. The emphasis on nurturing digital literacy was particularly pronounced, recognizing its role in propelling young Africans into the digital, manufacturing, and AI-driven industries.
Beyond job creation, the session delved into the complex landscape of migration, acknowledging both its challenges and potential. Prof. Kevin Chika Urama of the African Development Bank underscored the need to reimagine migration as a force for development. He shed light on the invaluable contributions of Africans in diaspora, from bolstering GDPs through remittances to serving as catalysts for growth and inspiration to the continent’s youth.
The overarching theme underscored the pivotal role of human capital development, education, and leveraging technological advancements in harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend. It emphasized the need for proactive measures to capitalize on the continent’s youthful workforce and mitigate challenges like food insecurity and unemployment.
In essence, the session painted a holistic picture—one where the AfCFTA, education, and technology converge as catalysts for Africa’s socio-economic transformation. It beckons governments, institutions, and stakeholders to collaborate, ensuring that the continent’s youth and women seize the opportunities presented by this technological boom and regional trade agreements.
As Africa navigates its path towards sustainable development, these discussions serve as a guiding beacon, steering efforts towards empowering its youth, leveraging their skills, and harnessing migration as a force for collective prosperity. It’s a narrative of hope, resilience, and proactive action—a narrative poised to redefine Africa’s future.