The executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Babatunde Osotimehin urged collaborative between private and public sectors in addressing youth unemployment.
“Africa’s population structure today has 65 per cent of its population below the age of 30. There is no way both private and public sector can provide jobs that young people need in the continent,” he warned.
“We at the United Nations Population Fund are talking to African governments about new investments in education, skills development, entrepreneurship and vocational training to enable Africa’s young people to innovate and create.”
Osotimehin added that the private sector involvement in this goes beyond internship and mentorship.
“They must see themselves as partners in national development, so they must invest in the education system as to make sure that graduates are fit for purpose otherwise they end up cherry-picking as there will not be a large pool to pick from.”
Osotimehin, also a leading public health expert, urged the private sector to invest in public health saying young people have to be healthy and must have comprehensive access to sexual health education so they can look after themselves and have a sense of fertility.
“This implies that women and girls must have access to contraceptives because that’s the only way you can shape the population as to reduce dependency of children on adults by growing the working class,” he said.
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He also encouraged the region to work on issues of governance and accountability.
“The one major part which we should drive is governance and accountability at all levels and also ensuring universal access to technology,” he said.
“Africa must feed itself and should be able to export agricultural products; it’s not only about primary production but also value addition and if the region does that it will be able to create more jobs.”