The Central African Ministerial Conference on Youth Employment held Tuesday, February 7 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, was a resounding success, with over 200 participants attending the high-level event. The conference opened with the testimony of young entrepreneur Fabrice Olomo, who engaged the audience on issues faced by youth when starting their businesses, and demonstrated how bright the future can be when young Africans are empowered.
In his welcoming address, the African Development Bank’s Resident Representative in Cameroon, Racine Kane, expressed his gratitude to the Government of Cameroon for hosting the Bank’s Jobs for Youth Ministerial Conference. While addressing the audience, he added, “The Bank is committed to finding resolution to this ever-important issue, and that is why it has adopted the coordinated approach of the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy”.
Africa’s population is rising rapidly and will reach 2 billion by 2050. It is expected that the youth population will double from 480 million today to 840 million by 2050. This means that Africa will be the youngest continent in the world. Unless employment opportunities are created for them, this rapidly growing youthful population could give rise to serious social, economic, political and security challenges.
In his opening remarks, Louis Paul Motaze, the Cameroonian Minister of Economy, Planning and Development, recognized the importance of youth issues and that “unemployment exposes youth to many perils”, impacting “their precarity, and jeopardizing the country’s economy and stability.”
The objective of Tuesday’s high-level meeting was about forging strong partnerships and working towards improved policies, strategies, programs and projects focused on youth employment and entrepreneurship in the Central Africa region. Ministers of Finance and Youth Employment, youth organizations, business leaders, universities and representatives of civil society were in attendance.
The Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (JfYA) was presented during the meeting and participants had the opportunity to get acquainted with its flagship programs. Panelists explored possibilities for sustainable solutions to the youth unemployment crisis, its medium- and long-term impacts and the creation of a better business climate that will lead to decent jobs for youth. When launching the Regional Ministerial Conferences in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on October 18, 2016, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina pointed out the urgent need for action, stating, “If youth is our future, then we are already behind schedule,” in providing them access to credit and better financing for their projects.
The next Ministerial Conference on Youth Employment for Southern Africa will take place in Pretoria, South Africa on February 27, 2017.