Africa has the fastest growing youth population in the world. They are the continent’s greatest asset — a vast source of energy, innovation, ideas and solutions. Indeed, at a time when the rest of the world will be ageing, Africa’s youth are also an asset for the global labour force.
But today, one third of African youth are unemployed and discouraged; another third are vulnerably employed or in low-value jobs in the informal sector. This reinforces poverty and inequality.
Young African women are even worse off. It is estimated that gender gaps in the labour force cost Africa US$105 billion in 2014 alone.
Investment is crucial to harness Africa’s youth dividend. Investments in health and education, and in science, technology and industrialization.
And not just basic education — but in skills that match the needs of present but above all of future labour markets in a world that is changing so quickly.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is an important step in the right direction in creating job opportunities.
Earlier this week, the United Nations launched the Youth2030 strategy and the Generation Unlimited initiative – two new efforts to empower people, including through learning and employment, especially for girls.
We want to make sure that all young people, in and beyond Africa, have decent work and can fulfil their potential.
Thank you very much.