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Addressing Africa's youth employment challenge


Youth employment is one of the most pressing challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa. The UN estimates that Africa’s youth aged 15-24 will swell by about six million each year for the next decade. By 2050, the median age will be just 24. Most young people in the region work in low-income and low-productivity jobs, and subsistence agriculture continues to dominate in many economies. Improving prospects for this generation is critical, given the potential benefits that a “youth dividend” may bring to the continent, if the young are given the skills and opportunities to contribute meaningfully to growth and well being.

In 2015, in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, IDRC commissioned a series of background papers to shed light on the critical challenge of youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim is to inform new areas of research support that will build an evidence base for practical and policy-relevant solutions. The papers include a regional overview and selected country-focused papers.

Youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa: Taking stock of the evidence and knowledge gaps

This paper provides an overview of the youth employment challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. It gives context on the overall economic and employment climate in the region, and takes stock of what is known — and not known — about youth employment specifically. It summarizes existing interventions to expand employment and livelihood opportunities for African youth, and identifies research that could address policy-relevant knowledge gaps.

This scoping paper is one of a series jointly commissioned by Canada’s International Development Research Centre and the MasterCard Foundation.



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