The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), through its Sub regional Office for West Africa (SRO-WA), has collaborated with over 350 coalition partners to tackle unemployment in Africa.
The executive secretary, ECA, Dr. Vera Songwe, at a 3-day hybrid regional business forum in Lagos, said, “In a crisis, the first thing we want to do is ensure we prevent good businesses from falling below and focus a lot on retention.”
Songwe said the African population was estimated at 1.3 billion in 2020 of which over 250 million is the youth and it is estimated that 10 million to 12 million are entering the workforce every year but only 3.1 million of them find jobs.
Themed: “Empowering Women Youths to Spur Africa’s Transformation Agenda”, the executive secretary, ECA explained that “The purpose of this conversation is how we can bring the West African woman to leverage the knowledge, the innovation that exists, leverage the vibrancy they have and ensure they can take their businesses one notch higher to the global sub-region and take advantage of markets that are further beyond in the east and the west.”
She disclosed that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) stands to grow Africa’s GDP by an additional $1trillion to deliver on what is needed to unlock borders, build value chains, and making sure the African women all work together to create the supply chain for textile, fashion, for agro-industry.
In the same vein, the minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed during her session, emphasized why it is imperative for society to empower youth and women. “We are hopeful, that the AfCFTA will be an effective avenue for empowering youths and women entrepreneurs and address the unemployment challenges we have in Africa, as well as address the need to create jobs”, she added.
Highlighting the major gaps in the African educational systems and it affects productivity, sub regional director, West Africa Office, UNECA, Mrs. Ngone Diop, said the region capacity of innovation remains weak mainly because of the deficiencies in the education systems, hence the reason for the forum which will help to change the narrative.