Abidjan (ILO News)- Decent jobs and social protection, hand in hand, powerfully contribute to reducing poverty, exclusion, and inequality while enhancing political stability and social cohesion. To promote a job-rich recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN Secretary-General launched the Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection in September 2021. The Global Accelerator aims to help direct development financing towards the creation of 400 million decent jobs, including in the green, digital and care economies, and extend social protection to 4 billion people currently without coverage.
On the side-lines of the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development TICAD 8, the virtual high-level policy dialogue brought together heads of Government, policymakers, workers’ and employers’ leaders from the continent, heads of international organizations and multilateral development to identify practical options for financing integrated policies that accelerate decent jobs creation, the extension of social protection and a just transition.
In remarks at the opening of the high-Level policy dialogue, the ILO Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder, highlighted that achieving an inclusive, job-rich recovery requires placing decent jobs and investments in social protection at the centre of recovery efforts. According to Ryder, the Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection, represented a vision for a new era of universal social protection, green and job-rich growth, that can put the world back on track to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Initiatives for employment and social protection must go in tandem. They must be mutually supportive. In our efforts we should consider the green, digital, and care economies, not least due to their potential for creating decent jobs for youth,” Ryder said. African Union Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Hon. Minata Samaté Cessouma emphasiszed: “In the last three years facing the impact of calamities including conflicts, climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic have exposed the deep inequalities in the world, with Africa being hit the hardest.” Hon. Cessouma outlined key priorities for the continent: “The African Union Commission, in close partnership with ILO, is working to promote comprehensive employment policies, pro-employment macroeconomic as well as sectoral policies for African countries. Furthermore, we are formulating an AU-ILO Youth Employment Strategy and are investing in boosting decent jobs and enhancing digital skills for youth in Africa's digital economy,’’ she specified. Speaking at the opening session, Japan State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. TAKEI Shunsuke highlighted that Japan has implemented bilateral development assistance through the Japan International Cooperation Agency and has financed ILO projects to support job opportunities for Africa’s youth. “Preparing to partner with the ILO-led Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, we would like to further serve as a knowledge partner and also we fully commit to achieving universal health coverage which contributed to social protection in Africa,” he said. On behalf of Hon. Malek Zahi, the Tunisian Minister of Social Affairs, Mr. Rafik Ben Ibrahim, the Cabinet Director confirmed that social protection is considered as one of the top priorities of the country. He declared that the social protection coverage rate has reached 83.7% in Tunisia. “Our policy in the field of social protection is not restricted to Tunisians, as it also covers refugees and other communities in the country,’’ Rafik added. The Global Accelerator for Africa Setting the scene, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa, Ms. Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon stated that the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection provided an extraordinary opportunity to foster partnerships for human centred development to achieve the SDGs. “Our commitment is to double Africa’s social protection coverage in three years- reaching at least 40 per cent by 2025 - guided by the Africa Regional Social Protection Strategy and aligned to the Abidjan Declaration,’’ she stressed, adding that “’the ILO is scaling-up investments in sectors that can drive employment creation, including in the digital, green and care economies.” In her speech, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on Africa, Ms. Cristina Duarte highlighted: “Africa’s wealth is immense, from its biodiversity to minerals that are essential for the digital revolution. But African countries’ true treasure is their human capital. Because human capital is the lever that can make African countries leapfrog toward sustainable development.’’ “Allow me to underscore the need to underpin strategies for jobs and social protections by domestic resources. The magnitude of the challenge in Africa and its expected extension in the medium and long term make it impossible to address through external financing,” she expressed. Speakers in the panel discussion ‘’An Integrated Approach to Financing Jobs, Social Protection and Just Transitions’’ in order of appearance were: Hon. Vera Kamtukule, Minister of Labour- Malawi; Ms. Mai Farid Assistant, Minister of Finance for Economic Justice at the Ministry of Finance- Egypt; Mr. Douglas Opio, Secretary General of the Federation of Uganda Employers; Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa- UNDP; Dr. Martha Phiri Director Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Division- Africa Development Bank; Mr. Joel Akhator Odigie, Deputy General Secretary, African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa). A key message emerging from the rich discussion during the high-level policy dialogue reiterated the critical role of the Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection in driving the structural transformation of African economies and societies. Speakers consistently highlighted the need to implement the Global Accelerator through a whole-of-society approach. Furthermore, governments, social partners and development partners emphasized the need to build on the excellent practices across the continent. Lastly, there was a collective agreement to forge new and effective partnerships between the public and private sector actors, including different ministries, trade unions and employer’s organisation, UN agencies and other bi- and multi-lateral development partners to deliver together. You can find all the relevant conference documents including the Report of the discussion here. The video of the Policy Dialogue is here Further contact information: Asmaa Rezk, Communication Specialist, DWT ILO/Cairo; email: firstname.lastname@example.org François Gombahi, Communication Specialist, CO-ILO/Abidjan; email: email@example.com