Youth employment is a critical issue across sub-Saharan Africa. With agriculture contributing to nearly 23 per cent of GDP in Africa, and 10-12 million jobs needing to be created annually for new labour market entrants, the creation of decent jobs for youth in rural and urban areas is urgent. Since smallholder farmers make up approximately 60 per cent of the population, deliberate investments in youth will facilitate the advancement of agricultural employment possibilities in the region, attracting youth participation.
Agri-food systems have the potential to create and scale-up decent employment opportunities for young people and lead to shared prosperity in Africa. Following estimates by the World Bank, the agribusiness and logistics sectors in Africa will mobilize about a trillion dollars of business by 2030.
At the same time, a key challenge for donors, youth leaders, and policymakers in the agri-food system is how to include and prioritize youth as an important demographic from conception to implementation and monitoring during each investment cycle.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the African Union have made significant efforts to accelerate youth-responsive agriculture and agribusiness investment programmes through the drafting of new Investment Guidelines for Youth in Agri-food Systems in Africa. They mark an important step in translating existing global and regional commitments for investments in agri-food systems into action.
The African continent can prosper if we take action now through formulating policies, investments programmes, and interventions
The Guidelines were validated in July during a technical workshop held with senior officials of the African Union, representatives of youth groups, young entrepreneurs, producer organizations, international finance institutions, and other development partners, and will be presented for endorsement by African Union Member States in October.
The Guidelines draw on research, successful programs, expert consultations and other tools to aggregate the most effective and innovative entry points for governments and stakeholders looking to formulate or review their national agricultural and agribusiness investment plans with youth at the forefront.
“The African continent can prosper if we take action now”
The Guidelines were drafted to assist African governments and others to design youth-responsive and youth-led agriculture and agribusiness investment programmes to increase youth entrepreneurship and decent jobs. They were also created to stimulate policy dialogue to ensure an enabling environment for investing in youth, particularly in rural areas and from vulnerable backgrounds.
“The Food and Agriculture Organization invites governments, producer organizations, youth organizations, international financial institutions, and all other development partners to use the Investment Guidelines as a practical tool for operationalizing efforts to increase investments in youth in the agri-food sector,” said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.
“The African continent can prosper if we take action now through formulating policies, investments programmes, and interventions that are demographically informed, youth-focused, and youth sensitive to tap the energy and dynamism of its increasing youth population,” said Amb. Josefa Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment.
The Guidelines will be presented at the African Union’s Specialised Technical Committee (STC) Meeting in October for endorsement by African Union Member States.