Africa facing shortfall of 50 million jobs by 2040, report says

01Jul 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Africa facing shortfall of 50 million jobs by 2040, report says
  • Unemployment crisis will ravage the continent if it doesn’t opt for market-based development, according to report by Tony Blair’s Institute

Parts of Africa could face a massive unemployment crisis by 2040, with “catastrophic” consequences for the global economy, new research has found.

The report predicted a shortfall of 50 million jobs, which should serve as a “wake up call” for governments across much of the continent, as well as international donors and agencies.

According to the analysis by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, based on world bank data, the labour force in sub-saharan Africa will be 823 million by 2040, up from 395 million in 2015. However, total number of jobs is only expected to hit 773 million, it said, leaving 50 million people in Africa unemployed.

The report looks at why some African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, with great economic potential, have struggled to transform and generate growth that is inclusive for all their citizens.

International donors pursuing “piecemeal, uncoordinated interventions” are aggravating matters, it said. Jim Murphy, former cabinet minister, now of the institute, said: “Unless action is taken, Africa is facing a shortfall of 50 million jobs by 2040. This should serve as a serious wake up call for all.

This daunting figure will not only have profound consequences for the whole of Africa and its people, but the impact on the global economy could be catastrophic.”

“International donors need to take a more coordinated approach, taking into account each countries individual needs, helping them to grow their economies and create jobs. Likewise, donor agencies are failing to adequately address the challenges facing the continent in order to prioritise economic growth.

The institute is backing calls for African governments and their international development partners to develop a strategy for inclusive economic growth, to create jobs.

“Prioritising inclusive growth is a smarter, more effective way to deliver the economic prosperity Africa needs,” said Murphy.

The institute argues for “market-based sector development”. Governments, supported by their development partners, should focus on developing sectors that have strong economic potential for competitiveness and create jobs, it said.

This approach, it said, had much in common with the successful growth strategies employed by many East Asian countries, as well as Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius and currently, Ethiopia.

The report highlighted the progress of Botswana, Ethiopia and Mauritius, which it said had made significant progress in recent decades, due to a political leaders working alongside stakeholders and development partners.

Developing sectors so that they transform an entire economy requires focus over many years, it said. Mauritius spent 10 years focussing on textiles and a subsequent 10 years in tourism, while Ethiopia and Botswana focussed on agriculture and services, respectively for 20 years.

The report laid out four elements and a “roadmap” for governments and development partners to follow, which focuses on a modernised version of industrial policy.

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