On the sidelines of the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union (AU), together with numerous additional partners, launched the Flagship Initiative to Accelerate Youth Employment in Agriculture and Agribusiness in Africa.
Africa has the youngest population in the world, with more than 600 million young people in the labour market.
Based on the principles of South-South and Triangular Cooperation, the Initiative aims to enhance the business ecosystem by creating more jobs and opportunities for African youth. Its main focus is to provide technical assistance, capacity development and knowledge exchange to youth enterprises by prioritizing agricultural value chains. As such, responsible agricultural investment to develop rural areas and reduce urban-rural disparity through public-private partnerships is fundamental.
“When we talk about the potential of human capital in Africa, we are particularly referring to young people,” FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu said. “African agribusinesses are expected to create a market worth US$1 trillion by 2030, so agriculture and agribusiness have an invaluable and untapped potential to address the youth unemployment challenge.”
The dissemination of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can further leverage the capacity of young people to innovate and launch a new business. These technologies connect small farmers to markets, reduce transaction costs and mitigate risks as well as establish new possibilities for education and technical training in remote rural areas.
“Agenda 2063 for Africa aspires to achieve equal prosperity, based on inclusive and sustainable growth, driven by the potential of women and youth in particular,” UNIDO Director General Li Yong emphasized. “Integrating youth in agriculture and agribusiness is a key priority in the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP),” he said.
The launch of the FAO-UNIDO Flagship Initiative reflects the global commitments towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and calls for action among its partners to further strengthen collaboration by implementing a blueprint and a platform to forge more partnerships and mobilize resources: Africa needs to promote youth employment and self-employment as part of the development momentum.
Agriculture and agribusiness have an invaluable and untapped potential to address the youth unemployment challenge in Africa