Africa has to innovate if it is to create enough meaningful jobs for its growing young population, says Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Executive Secretary Vera Songwe.
Speaking in Addis Ababa at a joint ECA-World Bank round table on jobs and economic transformation last week, Songwe said Africa’s population is likely to increase to 1.7 billion by 2030. This will require the continent to create at least 120 million jobs for young people who will enter the labour market between now and 2030.
“The question around jobs and economic transformation is one that almost every African leader is worrying about,” she says, adding immediate action on all fronts is imperative to address the continent’s jobs challenges.,
“Africa is growing but we need to do better and more. It is disheartening to see how more Africans are falling into poverty. That is why it is imperative that we are having this discussion of creating jobs on the continent,” Songwe adds.
This is where technology and innovation come in, two major forces for inclusive economic growth and development, as well as job creation.
“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,” Songwe notes, adding digitalization is transforming how businesses operate.
“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," she continued. "Policies geared towards a highly skilled, knowledgeable and healthier population are pertinent in ensuring prosperity and thereby reducing poverty on the continent."