|Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission|
“We are determined to step up our efforts to promote job creation, work for the eradication of poverty, achieve growth and allow equitable distribution, particularly for women and the youth,” said Zuma in her first address to the International Labour Conference.
Africa has managed to resist well to internal and external shocks and is expected to grow by 4.8 per cent in 2013 and 5.3 per cent in 2014. But according to Zuma, there are significant challenges ahead.
“By all estimates, our continent is a continent of young people, and it is getting younger. By 2025, it is estimated that the African youth will make up one-quarter of the world’s population. By 2040, half of the world’s youth population will be African, the majority of which will be women and girls. This means that in the next fifty years, approximately 1.1 billion of the global workforce will be African,” she said, calling for more investments in African agriculture, infrastructure, small and medium enterprises, sea transportation, energy, information and communications technology, and tourism.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder welcomed Zuma to the ILC and said: “Africa is rising. It is also encouraging to see African economies growing and African countries bringing down poverty levels and progressing on the decent work agenda. Yet, jobless growth is a challenge to the continent.”
Ryder said the ILO is committed to continue to work hand in hand with the African Union and its African social partners to make decent work for all a reality in the continent.
Investing in African youth
Zuma said that investing in Africa’s youth is a big part of meeting the challenges facing the region.
“It is imperative that we invest in our people’s health nutrition and education and have them acquire the skills that will enable them to become productive members of our society,” she said, adding that “to be properly employed, the youth must be employable.”
The Chairperson of the AUC mentioned a joint initiative developed by the AU Commission, the African Development Bank, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the ILO aimed at promoting youth employment in the continent.
|If we properly invest in youth and women, they can become a great asset to drive Africa’s social, economic and cultural development."|
She also referred to the large number of African workers who are part of the informal economy.
“We invite our international partners – in particular the ILO – to join hands with us in our efforts to raise the productivity and income of this category of workers, and to create the conditions favourable to their gradual participation into the mainstream economy,” she said.
“The African Union is committed for the next 50 years – and beyond – to modernize Africa, industrialize, continue to transform our economies so as ensure social services, as well as decent work and decent remuneration for all African workers, regardless of their sector of activities,” she concluded.
Zuma is expected to attend the G8 Summit which began on 17 June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, where she will talk about intra-African and international trade.