Senegal’s President, Macky Sall, made the call during the Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank hosted in Kigali, Rwanda.
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“Finding employment for our people should no longer be looked at as a national issue, but a continental issue. We need to build more industries and create trade linkages between African countries – and through this, many jobs will be created,” Sall said.
“This calls for drastic measures to scale up our industrial growth by providing necessities like electricity, water, transport and communication modes that are always functional. We in governments must also ensure that the environment is conducive for investors through political stability and security provision.”
Intra-Africa trade was estimated to represent about 12 per cent of the continent’s total trade in 2010, while the major part of the continent’s trade was with the rest of the world.
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Economic Commission for Africa’s executive secretary, Carlos Lopez added that a lot of emphasis must be placed on agriculture due to its role as the backbone of employment and industrial growth in Africa.
“Focus on agriculture will propel industrial growth and employment. Africa does not have much of a social welfare plan, therefore, people often perform occupational activities in order to survive. But if Africa focuses on agri-business models and industrialisation, many descent jobs will created for the average African.”
Viswanathan Shankar the executive director of Standard Chartered Bank Europe, Middle East and Africa added that African leaders must adopt changes in their education systems in order to march skills with market requirements.
“In Singapore, over 50 per cent of the youth who graduate from high school choose to attend vocational schools rather than universities – and this has helped the Asian country to have a large pool of young people with skills that are needed in the market. Africa must borrow this and replace theoretical teaching with practical lessons,” Shankar said.
“Leaders must therefore adopt a secular approach where they learn from successful models in other countries. Job creation cannot happen overnight; but with the right macroeconomics, political stability and quality education policies, we can get broad change throughout the continent.”