Child labour in Africa

According to the International Labor Organization, Africa has the largest number of child labourers; 59 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 are involved with hazardous work. More than one in 5 children in Africa are employed against their will in stone quarries, farms, and mines. Poverty remains the major reason behind this issue.

Globally, the number of child labourers has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million. But Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region with the highest incidence of child labour with more than one in five children in child labour.

The percentage of children in hazardous work is highest in the Sub-Saharan Africa region (10 per cent). The number of child labourers also decreased in Sub-Saharan Africa (by 6 million). The net impact of these regional trends is that the population of child labourers is becoming more concentrated in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. According to the regional distribution of child labour for the 5-17 years age for 2008-2012, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 30 per cent of all 5-17 year-olds in child labour.

Although the decline in child labour during 2008-2012 offers some cause for optimism, Sub-Saharan Africa is still the region where children face by far the highest risk of child labour and also the region where progress has been slowest and least consistent.

An increasing number of African countries are developing National Action Plans (NAPs). However, progress towards the achievement of the targeted goals is slow. Nearly half of the 54 countries in the region have yet to begin designing their NAPs. There is a great need to improve and scale up implementation efforts in nearly all countries. Partly because child labour programs tend to receive low attention within national development priorities.

ILO Strategies and policy responses in Africa

The ILO identified the need to reinforce action for a continued focus on Africa. An enhanced focus and support for the development and full implementation of national action plans for the elimination of child labour, especially its worst forms, and the scaling up and replication of pilot projects, knowledge building and integration of child labour into national development agendas is a priority in Africa.

Some ILO member States have formulated National Action Plans with the aim of eliminating the worst forms of child labour in the shortest possible time. The ILO is supporting several countries in the region in this regard, a key objective being the development of national institutional and technical capacities for the effective implementation of National Action Plans.

In order to fight child labour in Africa, the ILO has now launched aresource centre for Africa. This online centre will keep track of child issues in specific African countries on a regular basis.