Sierra Leone: President Bio visits youth skills training programme

Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio visited a youth skills training programme targeting about 1,540 young people learning road construction at the Bandajuma-Liberia border road project funded by the European Union, EU.

He thanked partners for this possible, among them, the EU Ambassador, Tom Vens, the head of National Authorising Office, Ambrose James, the National Youth Commissioner, Ngolo Katta and the construction company, CSE, for engaging able-bodied young men and women in the Pujehun District, southern Sierra Leone.

At Malema 2, en route to Jendema, President Bio addressed the youth and challenged them to form a ready workforce to work on future road construction projects in the country, adding: “Ours is a human capital development government. Therefore, people should be at the center of everything that we do”.

Commissioner Katta said the project would continue to help the young people with various skills in road construction, including welding, masonry, carpentry, steel bending, heavy-duty machine operators. He emphasised that the project separately targeted those community youths with no qualification and graduate youths who required hands-on training as engineers. 

He added that most importantly, the project also provides stipends to keep them right through the training period and thanked all partners, including the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Youth Affairs, Ministry of Tertiary and Higher Education, Sierra Leone Roads Authority, Sierra Leone Institute of Engineers, Sierra Leone Local Content Agency and the National Council for Technical Vocational and other Academic Awards.

The EU Ambassador expressed excitement at progress on the Bandajuma to Liberia road project, adding that about 80% of the 100-kilometer highway was already completed. 

He remarked: “What a difference for Sierra Leone and the people along the 4,500-kilometre Trans-West African Coastal Highway from Nouakchott to Lagos”, a transnational highway project to link 12 West African coastal nations, from Mauritania in the north-west of the region to Nigeria in the east, with feeder roads already existing to two landlocked countries, Mali and Burkina Faso.

African Union Chairperson Appoints African union Youth Envoy

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Thursday appointed Ms. Aya Chebbi from Tunisia as his Envoy for the Youth.

DpDV2UuV4AAlE08This appointment is a follow-up to the relevant decisions of the African Union policy organs and part of the continental efforts to harness the demographic dividend, empower young people across Africa, and further mobilize them in pursuit of the aspirations outlined in Agenda 2063.

Ms. Chebbi was selected following an open and rigorous process involving the review of hundreds of applications by a Panel made up of representatives of the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Regional Economic Communities and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. She brings with her a proven track record in advocacy and youth mobilization, with a view to effecting positive change.

As part of her mandate, and in support of the Commission’s efforts, the Youth Envoy will serve as spokesperson of the African youth to the relevant African Union decision-making bodies. She will advocate, and raise awareness on, the implementation of the Demographic Dividend Roadmap, which was adopted by the 2017 African Union Heads of State and Government Summit, and the 2006 African Youth Charter.

She will work in close collaboration with nine other members of the Youth Advisory Council designated by the Chairperson of the Commission, taking into account gender and regional representation requirements. She and the Advisory Council will engage with, and be supported by, relevant Departments of the Commission and other African Union entities, as well as youth organisations across the continent.

The Chairperson reaffirms the determination of the Commission to work towards the effective implementation of all African Union instruments relating to the youth. In January 2019, the Commission intends to organize a forum that will mark the formal launching of the activities of the Youth Envoy and the Advisory Council.

The Youth – Africa’s Most Valuable Resource for Economic Transformation


With over 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the largest population of young people in the world, with current trends indicating a doubling of the numbers by 2045. As the world commemorates International Youth Day this week, with the theme “Safe Spaces for Youth”, the African Development Bank reiterates its commitment to an inclusive and youth-focused economic transformation agenda for the continent.

The perilous path to the North undertaken by thousands of Africans each year evokes indignation around the world. Equally damaging is the silent exodus of its young professionals to the West in search of the ‘better life’. Both classes of emigres are fleeing from poverty. Invariably, Africa is exporting its future in droves.

The African Development Bank is particularly helping reverse this trend. At stake is the future of the continent’s agricultural and industrial economy and Africa’s place in the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution. A combination of factors including migration and poor economic choices, have resulted in Africa’s efforts to industrialize standing still over the last decade. The Bank is however on course to stopping the exodus of its most valuable resource.

To make agriculture more attractive to young people, it has since 2016 invested over $800 million in supporting young entrepreneurs in agriculture in more than15 countries. It will also galvanize over $1.5 billion annually over the next 10 years, to support young agriculture entrepreneurs (or agripreneurs). As a way of accelerating Africa’s industrialization, the Bank is promoting special economic zones (SEZs) across the continent to attract investments for industrialization – zones that will need hordes of young workers to thrive.

These plans reflect the Bank’s bullish view of the continent’s capacity to resolve its issues. In a similar vein, in November it will launch the Africa Investment Forum, a marketplace for investors interested in Africa. The forum, scheduled from 7-8 November in Johannesburg, South Africa, will showcase bankable projects, attract financing and provide platforms for investing across multiple countries.

“Africa must stop being a museum of poverty. Its people are determined to reverse this trend. The future of young Africans is not in Europe, their destiny is not to end their lives in the Mediterranean Sea,” Bank President Akinwunmi Adesina told reporters during the 53rd Annual Meetings of the Bank in Busan, Korea in June.

In some respects, the East Asian nation was an ideal location to discuss Africa’s industrialization and trade ambitions. Once in the league of the world’s poorest nations, Korea is now the 11th largest economy in the world due to sustained investment in education, healthcare and smart infrastructure. What does this mean for Africa’s industrialization drive?

Already, youth account for 60 percent of all unemployed Africans. To transform their economies, African countries will require knowledge-driven institutions and the assets of a well-educated and trained youths. Even as the African Development Bank pegs Africa’s infrastructure gap to be anywhere between $130 and 170 billion per year, proactive planning will be required to ensure that a significant share of these monies go towards soft infrastructure, namely, healthcare and human capital.

Attracting capital to programs and projects will always be equally as important as galvanizing Africa’s youth for positive engagement and value contributions to their societies.  Africa’s youth therefore remain at the heart of the Bank’s development financing efforts.

Africa’s youth at the center of the Bank’s development finance programs

The African Development Bank is working swiftly to reduce the skills mismatches in the labor market. Over the last 15 years, the Bank group’s education projects has invested over $1.64 billion in programs benefiting 6 million African youth and women, equipping them with the right skills for the jobs of the future in the ICT and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) industries.

The Bank, Africa’s foremost development finance institution, continues to make progress in the implementation of its youth strategy, which is anchored on three key pillars: innovation, integration and investment. Its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy aims to create 25 million jobs and benefit 50 million youth over the next 10 years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs. It is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa today. From 2016 to date, the Bank has invested over $400 million in both public and private operations to promote jobs for the youth in Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and other countries on the continent.

In 2017, President Adesina created the Presidential Youth Advisory Group to provide strategic guidance to the Bank on the implementation of its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy. The nine-member think tank is chaired by Ashish Thakkar, 37, founder and chairman of Mara Group, an investment firm with operations in over 20 African countries. A serial entrepreneur, Thakkar is also the author of The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa’s Economic Miracle.

Working with Facebook, Microsoft and the Rockfeller Foundation, the Bank in February 2018 embarked on a plan to launch 130 Centers of Excellence across Africa as part of its Coding for Employment Program. These centers will address the mismatch between skills of Africa’s youth and the hiring needs of employers.

The Bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund will serve as a financial and operational instrument for its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, with initial support of US $4.4 million from the Governments of Denmark and Norway.

Another initiative of the Bank (announced in 2017) is the development of the Enabling Youth Employment (EYE) Index to measure youth employment outcomes and enabling policies at country levels across Africa. The scorecard will, using evidence-based research, provide decision-makers with policy recommendations to increase employment opportunities for youth.

In today’s borderless economy and global talent market, Africa’s demographic dividend leads must be enabled to sustain economic productivity and equitable social and industrial transformation. Steps in this direction would help Africa attain Agenda 2030, the new sustainable development goals adopted by countries in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

Writing in the 2018 issue of African Prospects, a publication of the Bank, Professor Ruth Oniang’o, the 2017 Africa Food Prize Laureate and founder of Rural Outreach Program said the youth offer Africa its greatest opportunity to harness creativity and innovation, especially for the agriculture sector. “We must devise ways of getting Africa’s youths into gainful activities that should not only put food on their tables but also improve their well-being.…”

All youth deserve to succeed no matter where they are from.

Published courtesy of the AfDB

African Development Bank launches Youth Advisory Group to create 25 million jobs

The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has launched the Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) to provide insights and innovative solutions for job creation for Africa’s youth, as outlined in the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (JfYA).


Left to right: Ashish Thakkar, Adaobi Osakwe, President Akinwumi Adesina, Clarisse Iribagiza, Vanessa Moungar, Oley Dibba-Wadda, Mamadou Touré

The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims to create 25 million jobs and benefit 50 million youth over the next 10 years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs. It is currently the largest effort going on for youth employment in Africa today.

The advisory group, inaugurated on the sidelines of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan on Monday, November 27, will work with the Bank to create jobs for Africa’s youth.

“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20% annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500 billion per year for the next 30 years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55% every year to the year 2050,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said at the inauguration of the Group.

Adesina, who identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth, observed that out of the 13 million youths that enter the labour market each year, only 3 million (about 33% of African youth) are in wage employment, while the rest are underemployed or in vulnerable employment. The annual gap of more than 8 million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800 million in the next decades.

“Africa has an unemployment crisis among its youth,” he stressed, noting that unless employment opportunities are created for them, Africa’s rapidly growing population of youths can give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges.

Africa’s youths, though strong and dynamic, cross the desert or the Mediterranean Sea because they do not find decent jobs in Africa. Graduates are wandering in the streets, jobless. The low level of employment opportunities is also fueling violence and extremism in Africa. “Forty per cent of African youths engaged in armed violence join gangs or terrorist groups because of limited opportunities in their countries,” Adesina said.

“Sixty-six million African youths earn less than $2 a day, less than the price of a hamburger,” the Bank President emphasized. “Sixty-six million is 8 times the population of Switzerland, 6 times the population of Belgium, the same as that of the UK, France or Italy, and 80% of Germany’s population,” he added.

The Presidential Youth Advisory Group (PYAG) comprises nine members under the age of 40 who have made significant contributions to the creation of employment opportunities for African youth.

The PYAG members are: Ashish Thakkar, CEO, Mara Group, Tanzania (Chair); Uzodinma Iweala, award-winning author, Nigeria; Mamadou Touré, Founder / CEO, Africa 2.0 / Ubuntu Capital, Cameroon; Vanessa Moungar, Human and Social Development Director, AfDB, and member of President Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa, Chad; Francine Muyumba,President, Panafrican Youth Union, Democratic Republic of Congo; Jeremy Johnson, Co-founder, Andela, USA; Clarisse Iribagiza, CEO, Hehe, Rwanda; Ada Osakwe, CEO, Agrolay Ventures, Nigeria; and Monica Musonda, CEO of Java Foods, Zambia.

On the rationale behind the setting up of the advisory group, President Adesina explained: “We recognize the enormous amount of energy, creative and innovative thinking, and entrepreneurial excellence that many of our youth bring to the table. For this reason, the Bank must ensure that it is well advised by cutting-edge youth representatives on its policies, actions and programmes, for the benefit of Africa’s youth.”

“The members of the Presidential Youth Advisory Group are expected to actively engage private sector partners, government leaders, civil society, donor partners, and other stakeholders; and support the significant amount of work that the Bank is already doing and promoting across the continent through its Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy,” President Adesina said.

A youth-led economic transformation agenda

The Presidential Youth Advisory Group is an opportunity for leading young voices in Africa to develop new and fresh perspectives and recommend innovative solutions that will shape AfDB’s support to African countries, and reduce the scourge of youth unemployment.

The Bank is fully committed to working with the PYAG to scale up and expedite results that deliver decent and sustainable jobs for African youth, through formal employment and successful youth entrepreneurship that allows African youth to become their own drivers of economic prosperity, social stability and environmental sustainability.

Ashish Thakkar, CEO of the Mara Group and Chair of the Advisory Group, said, “It is a great honour to serve our continent in this function. We know that the stakes are high, but we are committed to the task of creating flourishing youth businesses that provide tremendous value. We are also focused on facilitating the achievement of AfDB’s High 5s and Sustainable Development Goals. We have just concluded our work program for the next year and have hit the ground running.”

He described how his family lost everything they had during the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.

“I have borrowed $5,000 to launch my business without any form of support. Today, Mara Group has 14,000 employees around the world. I was alone, but imagine what we can do together with the support of an institution like the AfDB.”

“I have never heard of an institution as important as the AfDB setting up and advisory group only made of youth. A Chinese proverb has it that if you want one year of prosperity, plant a grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, plant a tree. If you want a century of prosperity, invest in people,” said Touré, a member of the group.

Also speaking, Ada Osakwe said, “Forty per cent of entrepreneurs in Nigeria are women, but 73% operate in consumer retail systems. We need to address that and provide youth with more lucrative jobs.”

To make agriculture more attractive to young people, the Bank last year invested $800 million in supporting young entrepreneurs in agriculture as a business in 8 countries. It will reach 15 countries this year. The African Development Bank expects to invest 1.5 billion per year for the next 10 years to support young agripreneurs.

Delivering on its youth strategy

The African Development Bank has made great progress toward implementing its strategy through three key pillars: innovation, integration and investment. In terms of integration, the Bank entered into partnership with the International Labour Organization to strengthen the capacity of African countries to harmonize youth employment into national policies.

The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund will serve as a financial and operational instrument for the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, with initial support of US $4.4 million from Denmark and Norway.

The African Development Bank is also developing the Enabling Youth Employment (EYE) Index to measure youth employment outcomes and enabling policies at country levels.

“With this amazing group of very diverse young individuals, we even hope to exceed the Bank’s goal to create 25 million jobs and 50 million youth equipped with the right skills,” said Thakkar. “It is time to change the narrative about Africa’s youth!”