Innovation key in creating jobs in Africa

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The ECA-Worldbank summit in Addis Ababa. PHOTO/COURTESY: APO Newsroom

Africa has to innovate if the continent is to create sufficient decent jobs for its growing youthful population, Vera Songwe the Executive Secretary at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said on Tuesday at the 2019 joint ECA-World Bank roundtable on jobs and economic transformation hosted in Addis Ababa.

According to Ms. Songwe, Africa needs to take immediate action on all fronts to address the continent’s job challenges.

 “Africa is growing again but we need to do better and more. It is disheartening every day to see that more Africans are falling into poverty. That is why it is imperative that we are having this discussion of creating jobs on the continent,” Ms. Songwe explained.

Innovation, as Ms. Songwe explained, digitization is a major force for economic growth and development, which is crucial for the continent to create enough jobs for its youth in particular.

“Digitalization is, now more than ever, playing an important role in Africa’s economic transformation and has the potential to open opportunities to labour markets, moving beyond markets through the free movement of people,” she added.

Similarly, Ms. Songwe highlighted the need for African economies to stimulate adequate industrialization through increased intra African trade.

 “As digitalization and trade create new opportunities for economic transformation through jobs, it will be important for policy makers to recalibrate policies towards strengthening human capital. Policies geared towards a highly skilled, knowledgeable and healthier population are pertinent in ensuring prosperity and thereby reducing poverty on the continent,” she said.

On his part, Akihiko Nishio, the Vice President for Development Finance at the World Bank, insisted that Africa requires a major economic transformation to address the continent’s job challenges.

“Failing to deliver good jobs for the growing youth population not only risks squandering the demographic dividend, but raises significant social risks. In order to address job unavailability for the youth, we require committed leadership, sustained investments, and concerted support from both the private and public sectors,” Mr. Nishio explained. —

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