African Employment Trends, April 2007

Widespread economic growth and increased productivity in Africa has been insufficient to reduce the growing numbers of unemployed and working poor in Africa. This is the main finding of the first African Employment Trends Report written for the ILO’s 11th African Regional Meeting to be held on 24-27 April in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The unemployment rate in Africa stood at 10.3 per cent in 2006 and the share of people who, despite the fact that they work, still live with their families below the US$1 a day poverty line is nowhere in the world higher than in Africa. And perspectives are not bright either: It is estimated in the report that, between 2006 and 2015, the percentage of persons working but still living on less than US$2 per person in the household, per day will decrease from 78.6 per cent to 76.4 per cent, but the number will increase from 260.3 million to 316.7 million. Meanwhile, the percentage of working people living on less than US$1 a day per family member will decrease from 46.2 to 44.1, but the number will increase from 152.8 million to 182.9 million.

Why is this the case? The Report tries to find answers to this question by analysing the latest labour market data available for Africa. But it also takes other social and economic challenges such as HIV/AIDS, migration and child labour into account to explain the reasons for Africa’s struggle against poverty. Such an analysis can help to design effective poverty reduction policies which could help the poor take advantage of the employment opportunities generated by growth.