“HOW DOES UNEMPLOYMENT AMONG THE YOUTH AFFECT THE DEVELOPMENT OF
SUB – SAHARA AFRICAN COUNTRIES” CASE STUDY OF ECOWAS
Youth, Unemployment rate, Youth-unemployed.
• According UN, youth comprises the age-group between (15–24)
• According ILO, unemployment rate is defined as the
proportion of the labor force that has not worked more than one
hour during the short reference period and is actively looking
for and is available for work.
• Thus, youth-unemployed are those people aged between 15–
24 who haven’t worked but are available and actively seeking
• Sub–Sahara Africa has witnessed improved economic growth rates in the last
two decades. Annual GDP growth rates in the region averaged 5%. Growth in
Western Africa was at 5.5%.
• Despite the positive economic growth, challenge of high unemployment rate is a
common place in majority of African states.
• According to the World Employment and Social Outlook–Trends 2015, Sub-
Saharan Africa, accounted for 3 quarters of the world’s vulnerable employment
& by 2019, more than 212 million people will be out of work, up from the
current 201 million.
• ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said. “More than 61 million jobs have been lost
since the start of the global crisis in 2008 and our projections show that
unemployment will continue to rise until the end of the decade. This means the
jobs crisis is far from over so there is no place for complacency,”
Why the youth?
• The global unemployment rate averages 12% & the unemployed
youth reaches about 75 million.
• According to the Population Research Bureau, Africa has the fastest
fastest growing & most youthful population in the world, over 40 %
Global Youth Unemployment and Unemployment rates, 1995-2015
Youth Unemployment Rate (%) in African Countries
Youth unemployment rates by region, 1995 and 2005−14
• The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is made up of 15 member countries
countries located in the Western African region: Benin, Burkina Faso, cabo Verde, Côte D'ivoire,
Rates of Youth Unemployment for selected ECOWAS MEMBERS
Country Youth unemployment rate (%) Unemployment rate (%)
Nigeria 37.7 23.9
Ghana 25 -
Gambia 40 -
Guinea Bissau 30 -
Mali 15.4 -
Sierra Leone 60 -
Causes and effects of urban youth unemployment
Causes of youth unemployment in ECOWAS
• Urban expansion (due to rural-urban migration),
• Slow urban development,
• slow economic growth (leading to low job creation),
• mismatch between university or college education and the labour
Key effects to the Youth
• Young people are forced by circumstances to indulge in violence, drug
abuse, prostitution and ‘gangism’.
• In Nigeria, due to chronic youth unemployment “Kidnappings are on
the increase across the country & the unemployed youths view ‘the
business’ as lucrative”
• Nwokwu (2013), the intelligent young people who fail to secure
employment use technology to hack private bank accounts and effect
money withdrawals or transfers. Such activities have led to set-backs in
economic development in the country.
Cont. effects to the youth
• High unemployment among the youth exposes them to abuse by
politicians who engage them in anti-social and underground political
• In Nigeria, Nwokwu (2013) states that “The unemployed youths have
become political thugs and blood-thirsty hooligans at the disposal of
Cont. effects to the youth
• The mismatch that exists between the training offered and the jobs that are
available on the job market due to inadequate coordination btn industry &
• Ghana crusader executive news quoted Ghana’s President & ECOWAS chairman
John Mahama when addressing the 47th ECOWAS summit in Accra Said.
• And it is my hope that the ECOWAS commission takes up this issue, the
challenge of job creation that faces every single one of us and the rest of the
• He continued: Africa, we have the fastest growing youth population; young
people are coming out of school at every level of the educational system in the
hope of finding jobs, the Youth bulge is both an advantage to our continent and
also a danger if we are not able to handle it in terms of creating jobs for them.
effects to the youth unemployment to the economy
increased public spending
• Youth unemployment increases public spending to the economy;
direct costs such as increased benefit payments, lost income-tax
revenues and wasted capacity.
Policy responses: lessons learned
• In response to this challenge regional and continental governments have met
severally to discuss solutions to youth unemployment in Africa.
• On 18th February 2009 in Addis Ababa, African heads of state declared 2009-
2019 as the decade of youth development in Africa & resolved to advance youth
dev’t & ensure increased investments in youth development programmes at
• On 1st July 2011, the heads of state and government met in Malabo, Equatorial
Guinea to discuss the need to ‘accelerate youth empowerment for sustainable
• In July 2012, the African Development Bank facilitated a policy dialogue on
youth employment for the Southern African region.
Lesson learnt from ECOWAS.
• In Ghana, the government created the National Youth Service for its
graduates and also the National Youth Employment Program (NYEP)
to secure jobs for the unemployed.
• The Nigerian government introduced Skill Acquisition and enterprise
development into the National Youth service corp, and a business
plan competition for young people tagged ‘YOUWIN’ program. These
efforts have not clearly resulted in significant reduction in youth
• Africa in general & ECOWAS in particular requires an integrated holistic
approach to addressing the youth unemployment . World Bank 2008 report
advocates for a comprehensive model that caters for rural development,
preparation of young people for the labor market and investments in agriculture.
• Creation of an enabling environment which promotes investment; provision of
power, maintaining law and order, adequate security & resilient justice system
which facilitates strong contracts and protect mutual trust.
• Education curriculum should be revised to incorporate skills and enterprise
Designing a special program for low-skilled youth in vocational centres.
Provision of incentives to SMEs that promote student internships, graduate
trainee programmes & community-based projects that create jobs for young
Investing in skills and quality job creation.
• Agriculture must be made attractive as a viable source of investment for young
Transition from subsistence to commercialized farming.
Adequate investment in rural education to boost rural opportunities & reduce
The challenge of youth unemployment is profound in the world over.
• The ILO acts as an overall global manager of employment issues. ILO acts as a reference
organization for all countries in the world. Its strategies trends to be followed by all
since they are experts in labor issues.
• Strategies to fight youth unemployment in Africa in general & ECOWAS in particular
could include correction of the defective education system, promotion of skills
development among the youth, encouraging the young people to be innovative, youth
entrepreneurial programs, rural development to stem rural-urban migration,
encouraging the private sector to employ young people, job creation and government
Jorge Saba Arbache. Senior Economist in the World Bank's Office of the Chief Economist,
Africa Region. Says ‘‘the demographic transition is an opportunity for Africa to compete
internationally. The main challenge is to employ the appropriate policies for the region to
benefit from this unique opportunity’. It is my belief that individuals, organizations and
government will make appropriate decisions to maximize this opportunity’’.