Wednesday December 4, 2019
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Wednesday December 4, 2019

Ahramonline – Egypt

Egypt, ITFC ink $1.1 bln agreement to support logistic, petroleum commodities

The Conversation (Johannesburg)

Ethiopia Is Making Maps to Help Improve Soil Health

The Herald – Zimbabwe

Southern Africa: Zimbabwe Imports U.S.$1 Million Meat from South Africa

Ethiopian News Agency – Ethiopia

US-Ethiopia Defense Committee Meeting Held in DC

Morocco World News – Morocco

Morocco Has 6th Strongest Military in Africa, 61st Globally

ANGOP – Angola

Angola presents economic reforms in Germany

TAP – Tunisia

FAO: MENA policy makers and experts called to improve water use

Egypt Today – Egypt

Egypt jumps up four places in Climate Change Performance Index: Min.

Ghanaian Times (Accra)

Ghana Marks 2019 International Day of Persons with Disabilities

This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria Has Seventh Largest Number of Internet Users - Report

The Herald – Zimbabwe

Education must remain affordable

Education, as a basic right for every child, should remain accessible and affordable.

Reports that boarding schools countrywide have increased their fees for next term three-fold are a cause for concern.

This calls for school administrators to act reasonably and humanely in coming up with non-punitive fees structures.

The Government should engage schools and come up with solutions to ensure that schools remain open, while shielding parents from unjustified increases.

The hikes are in some cases out of sync with the quality of services offered.

Worse still, the proposed fees do not take into account the average parent’s earnings.

Although the Government says it has not approved any increase, parents with children enrolling for Form One next year are being asked to pay the high fees to secure places for their children.

In justifying the fees hikes, school authorities say it is part of the regular reviews to ensure that they are adequately resourced to cushion themselves from the prevailing harsh economic climate.

While it is inevitable for schools to review fees in line with inflation, the increases should be reasonable, taking into account that parents were already struggling to make ends met.

Schools must explore cost-cutting measures to remove the need to increase fees to meet running costs.

There should be consultations with parents on what their children can forgo.

Considering that some schools are already charging high fees, we call for urgent dialogue between the Government and schools, to hammer out solutions well before the opening of the 2020 first term.

Unless the fees issue is addressed, the first term is likely to be characterised by massive transfers as parents and guardians move their children to schools they can afford.

That will exert pressure on mission and Government schools which are already battling with high enrolments against the backdrop of constrained resources.

We would not want to see a situation where schools are forced to reintroduce hot-seating to accommodate large numbers of pupils migrating from expensive schools, or the mushrooming of sub-standard private colleges.

We believe fees should not be a barrier to education, but should ensure that pupils are accommodated in institutions that match their parents’ pockets, without making it the preserve of the well-heeled.

There is need to match fees with the quality of service offered, be it food or examination results.

Some parents have often questioned the fees matrix of some learning institutions, especially boarding schools, that make parents pay for facilities that are already available at the schools like science laboratories and libraries.

While there is need to cover replacement costs, these needed to be kept low.

To stop unjustified fees increases, we encourage the Government to put in place a policy that stops schools from selling uniforms, which are priced beyond the reach of many families and constitutes a big percentage of the invoice.

With indications also that out of these outrageous fees, the lion’s share is going towards the purchase of food, schools should seriously consider using arable land allocated to them for farming to feed their pupils.

A number of boarding schools, both mission and Government, are on farms.

The decision to locate schools on farms was premised on the need to create an environment where pupils can put into practice whatever they would have learnt.

As a result, some schools became hubs of entrepreneurship by running successful farming projects.

Some of these boarding schools used rear cattle, poultry, goats and other livestock for education purposes and consumption.

The bulk of the farm produce would find its way into the school kitchen, while the remainder would be sold, with profits being reinvested on the farms or in other day-to-day school needs.

That practice seems to have died a natural death, judging by the growing demand for groceries on most boarding schools’ requirements.

Boarding schools need to re-examine their courses and promote production.

If anything, schools should leverage on the decision by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) to include Agriculture as an examinable subject, to engage in self-sustaining farming activities.

We urge the Government and school authorities to ensure that education remains affordable, while schools remain viable.

The Herald – Zimbabwe

The future of learning in a globalised world

By: Robert Jenkins

Volodymyr Charushyn (16) at the wood carving lesson at his education complex for children with hearing disabilities in Ukraine. He is a grantee of UPSHIFT Ukraine, an innovative programme aimed at developing entrepreneurship skills among adolescents and youth as agents of social change.

A transformative approach to education must have learning at its centre and go beyond traditional understandings of what is to be taught in classrooms. It must also reach all learners — whether in school or out — so that no young person is left behind.

Right now, there are 1,8 billion adolescents and young people growing up in a world of globalisation and massive technological change.

What kind of lives will they lead as they become adults? Will it be one of hope or despair? Will they be equipped with the knowledge and skills to make empowered choices, or will they find themselves woefully unprepared?

Let us consider these questions in the context of the global “learning crisis”.

For the first time in history, there are more non-learners in school than out of school.

An estimated six in every 10 children and adolescents globally are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.

For too many, schooling does not equal learning. The breadth and depth of this crisis presents the greatest global challenge to preparing adolescents and youth for life, work and active citizenship.

UNICEF, with funding from the David Beckham Foundation and implementation from Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation, developed the Girls Education school clubs in Adjumani district to support teachers, administration, learners, parents and community members to establish an adolescent-responsive learning environment to improve access and retention.

Education and skills are fundamentally linked. Without the knowledge and skills provided by strong educational systems, young people cannot live empowered lives in which they decide their own futures.

Shortfalls in learning eventually show up as weak skills in the workforce, making the transition from education to decent work even more challenging.

And the gap is growing between what education systems provide and what young people, communities and economies need. Globally, an estimated 40 percent of employers already find it difficult to recruit people with the skills they need.

But if the challenges are big, so are the opportunities for change.

The time is ripe for a learning revolution that involves a fresh approach to how we think about education, learning and skills.

A revolution that will give young people a better chance of securing decent work, and a life that makes the most of their talents and potential.

A more holistic vision of education incorporating a breadth of skills

To become successful lifelong learners, find productive work, and actively engage in their communities, adolescents and young people need to develop a breadth of skills. Foundational skills such as the ability to read, write and do maths are key.

But equally important are transferable skills — such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving — which help learners adapt to dynamic labour markets, work collaboratively with others, and respond to global or local challenges.

Most education systems don’t focus enough on these 21st century skills, and we need to mainstream these skills within and outside of education systems. Learning these skills right from the pre-primary years is critical to build strong foundations that continue into the first and second decades.

UNICEF and partners are supporting national efforts to improve access to and quality of education, including activities to increase education access for adolescent girls and marginalised children.

Embed skills development through multiple pathways

Effective skills development requires alignment of curriculum, pedagogy and learning assessments — all of which require a systematic strengthening of teaching and learning through multiple pathways. At UNICEF, we are increasing our focus on this growing area of work.

In 2018, the share of UNICEF-supported countries which have mainstreamed skills within national education or training systems reached 16 percent, a significant increase from the baseline of 4 percent. Alternative learning pathways can offer a second chance for adolescents and young people who have dropped out, are at risk, or simply had no access to formal education.

Such pathways, however designed, should not be seen as informal remedial programmes. They must be of good quality, recognised and accredited; they must also help learners gain knowledge and skills to complete their education, transition to technical education, or look for employment.

This means that, more than ever, we need to keep a relentless focus on equity and quality. Young people of upper secondary school age (15-17) constitute the largest number of children who are out of school.

Poverty is often a key reason for this number, with many choosing to look for jobs over continuing their education.

Young women face the additional burden of gender barriers — they are three times more likely than their male peers to be outside the labour force and not participating in education.

Pay attention to digital skills and the divides

Digital technology has increased learning opportunities in a manner never known before, including the promise of online training opportunities and job-matching services.

Benefits of the digital age are hardly equally shared, however.

About 29 percent of young people (15-24) worldwide — around 346 million — are not online.

Digital divides mirror prevailing economic gaps, amplifying advantage for wealthier children and failing to deliver opportunities to the poorest.

African youth are the least connected, for example.

Around 60 percent are not online, compared with just 4 percent in Europe. Since digital access and literacy are increasingly becoming determinants of equal opportunity, they are vital for all children, adolescents and young people, no matter where they live.

For those without formal education, online learning opportunities, particularly in non-formal contexts such as vocational training centres, represent a chance to learn Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills. For some it may be the only chance they get to engage with ICT at all.

The challenges we face are many — from constrained capacity within education systems, to finding evidence of effective approaches, and limitations of the measurement of skills.

But change can begin when there is strong, long-term commitment and leadership from governments and all stakeholders. No country can afford a generation of young people lacking the education and skills to shape a better future for themselves and their communities.

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Ahramonline – Egypt

Harnessing technology

By: Ahmed Kotb

The 2019 African Economic Conference (AEC), held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh between 2 and 4 December and organised by the African Development Bank (AFDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme, urged African policymakers and international organisations to take serious steps towards achieving sustainable development across the continent and create job opportunities for the young people who comprise 62 per cent of Africa’s population.

The 14th round of the three-day conference focused on jobs, skills and capacity development.

“Africa is the next development frontier and young people will drive the continent’s economic growth,” Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said during the opening session of the conference.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), six out of 10 of the fastest growing economies are in Africa. In terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Nasr noted that despite an overall global decline of 13 per cent in 2018, foreign investments in Africa rose by more than 10 per cent.

Nasr highlighted the role of the private sector role in helping secure sustainable economic growth, pointing out that Egypt’s own economic reform programme led unemployment to fall to 7.5 per cent during the second quarter of 2019, the lowest figure for a decade.

She said Egypt was focused on attracting value-added investments that provide job opportunities for young people and had taken serious steps in facilitating access to finance job creating projects.

Tarek Amer, governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), told the conference that policy-makers across Africa are increasingly concerned with facilitating job creation and encouraging entrepreneurs. “Egypt’s experience in creating jobs and supporting entrepreneurs started with a vision created six years ago to restore confidence in the political and economic spheres,” he said.

The government has implemented policies to enhance access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises, which in turn helped create more jobs.

“We believe that creating jobs and encouraging entrepreneurship is not only the way forward for our own economy but the best way to utilise economic resources across Africa,” he said.

Charles Lufumpa, AFDB’s vice president for economic governance and knowledge management, said an estimated 10 to 12 million Africans enter the workforce every year, though only three million jobs are created annually. The deficit presents a major challenge to policymakers.

“Although agriculture is the mainstay of many African economies, in some cases employing two-thirds of the workforce, the sector is characterised by low productivity and is often synonymous with low incomes and poverty,” he said.

If poverty is to be eliminated from Africa in our lifetime then we need to transform the structure of our economies from low-productivity agriculture to sectors such as manufacturing and services. Current levels of unemployment, coupled with the disruptive power of technology in the workplace, have made it imperative we reconsider traditional approaches to job creation in Africa.

AFDB, Lufumpa continued, believes the private sector should be the main engine for job creation and governments should facilitate it by improving governance and enabling an environment in which the private sector can prosper.

“AFDB believes the private sector can help create more and better jobs. Initiatives by AFDB engaging the private sector should create 25 million new jobs by the end of 2020, increasing support for entrepreneurship, which in turn empowers youth.”

Raymond Gilpin, head of strategy, research and analysis at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the UNDP’s target is to empower 25 million young Africans by nurturing their skills, provide opportunities for 100 million Africans to network and seek peer support, close the gender gap and create 10 million jobs.

“AEC is working to establish a viable and interactive network of African thinkers and empower future leaders in Africa.”

Gilpin underlined the importance of digitisation in Africa’s development trajectory and the transformative power of information and financial technologies which can be used to recreate and re-imagine Africa’s future.

Africa is projected to have the world’s fastest growing working age population until at least 2030. More than 10 million new jobs need to be created every year just to keep up pace with the growth of the labour force, Adam Al-Hiraika, director of the macroeconomics and governance division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told conference participants.

“The majority of young employed people are engaged in the informal sector which can account for 95 per cent of jobs,” he said.

A flexible educational system is needed to improve the complementarity of labour and technology and one way of integrating young people into the labour market is to promote entrepreneurship.

“We need a new, homegrown strategy for development in Africa which helps us create jobs for everyone, add value to national commodities and compete in global markets,” said Al-Hiraika.

Such development is articulated in Agenda 2016-2025 which aims to transform Africa’s economies and mobilise the resources needed to empower youth, create more opportunities and encourage entrepreneurship.

“Improving skills and employability, and ways to finance projects, are among the objectives of the 2016-2025 strategy,” said Hanan Morsi, director of AFDP’s macroeconomic policy, forecasting and research department. AFDB’s strategy is targeting the creation of 25 million jobs, said Morsi. In 2018, the bank approved 112 projects across the continent, representing 60 per cent of all projects approved by AFDB, creating 1.5 million new jobs.

Salah Khaled, director of UNESCO’s regional office for Central Africa, argued that falling educational standards in Africa, and the failure of technical and vocational training to adapt to new technologies, have compounded the problem of unemployment in Africa.

“We need skilled IT teachers to prepare new generations for the job market and ensure their skills meet market needs,” he said.

Job creation cannot compromise efforts to tackle climate change, argued Priya Lukka, strategy director at Goldsmith’s University. “We need strategies that prioritise both issues at the same time,” she said.

Green jobs do not have to be limited to sectors like renewable energy but can include every sector as long as we think in terms of sustainable practice, for which cooperation between governments and the private sector is needed.

On the sidelines of the 2019 AEC the African Development Bank, in partnership with Microsoft, launched the Coding for Employment digital training platform, an online tool to provide competitive digital skills to young people in Africa.

Uyoyo Edosio, senior education, ICT and innovation specialist at AFDB, said the programme is a key part of the bank’s strategy to create 25 million jobs in agriculture and other key sectors by 2025 and to equip 50 million Africans with the skills needed to compete in the job market.

The programme has already been piloted in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire and the goal now, according to Edosio, is to scale it up the next 10 years and establish 130 centres of excellence across the continent. By building synergies with the public and private sector, on local and international levels, to deliver demand-driven, agile and collaborative ICT skills trainings the programme seeks to deliver nine million jobs and help African youth become innovative players in the digital economy.

The digital training platform provides technical courses on web development, design, data science and digital marketing as developing participants’ communications, collaboration, problem-solving and leadership skills.

Ghada Khalifa, director of Microsoft Philanthropies for the Middle East and Africa, a defining challenge of our time is to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to benefit from technology and to meet the challenge requires a significant shift in approaches to skills development across the continent.

“We believe that through dynamic partnerships such as these we can help build a knowledge-based economy in Africa that leaves no one behind,” she said.

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Ahramonline – Egypt

GERD: Take two

By: Doaa El-Bey

Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian irrigation ministers met in Cairo this week for the second of four ministerial and technical negotiations. The latest round of negotiations was agreed in November at US brokered talks between the three parties in Washington.

“The first meeting tackled procedural matters. The second round needed to make some progress on outstanding issues for it to be anything other than a waste of time,” said a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity.

On the first day of the two-day meeting Minister of Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Ati said Egypt hoped to reach a fair and balanced agreement on the filling and operation of the dam by 15 January 2020 and stressed the importance of continuing with the talks.

“Our goal is to reach a win-win agreement that enables Ethiopia to generate the hydropower it wants while protecting downstream countries from any major damage caused by a reduction in water supply,” said Abdel-Ati.

Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas insisted the three countries are on the right track, saying, “if we manage to listen to all our concerns, it will pave the way to progress.”

Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Selci Bekele said the dam could furnish a blueprint for regional integration, stressing that while the Nile is important to Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia too has a right to use the resources of the river.

“These technical meetings do not aim to discuss the legitimacy of the dam… what we have to do is find a solution to outstanding problems,” said Bekele. He added that the partial filling of the dam’s reservoir, which will begin in July, should take place in an atmosphere of mutual confidence.

The statements that emerged from the meeting, says the diplomat, suggest the parties are not yet in a position to inch towards an agreement.

Rakha Hassan, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, also worries the talks may turn out to be a waste of time.

“My fear is that the present round will fail to make progress and that the US, as an observer, will be unable to push the parties towards agreement. If that happens Egypt will be placed in the position of having to further internationalise the issue at a time when the dam will be virtually complete.”

Mohamed Hegazi, a former deputy to Egypt’s foreign minister, is more optimistic that the latest round of negotiations, held under the sponsorship of the World Bank and the US, will bear fruit. It is important, he says, to focus on the fact that “agreeing the filling time and the operating process of the dam is an attainable goal.”

Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Egypt Dina Mufti told the media last month that the Ethiopian government is also optimistic about the prospects of the talks.

The first of the four rounds of meetings was held in Addis Ababa last month. The talks addressed rules for filling and operating the dam, and how periods of drought should be dealt with, but nothing concrete emerged.

The third session will be held in Sudan later this month while the last session, expected to be the most decisive, is scheduled between 9 and 10 January in Addis Ababa.

Recent proposals put forward by Egypt for a flexible reservoir-filling process over seven years that guarantees an annual flow of 40 billion cubic metres have been rejected by Ethiopia which said the proposals echoed colonial-era laws that discounted the rights of upstream countries. Ethiopia offered to guarantee a flow of 31 billion cubic metres annually.

However important the timetabling for filling the dam is, it is not the most crucial consideration, says Hegazi.

“Egypt’s proposal to link the filling process to the hydrology of the dam allows for flexibility. The amounts can increase or decrease according to the level of rainfall in any given season,” explains Hegazi.

During November’s trilateral meeting in Washington, attended by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass, the three countries agreed that should the four meetings not result in a breakthrough ministers of irrigation will refer the issue to their heads of state rather than resort to outside mediation. They also agreed to attend two meetings in Washington this month and next month to assess what progress had been made.

In 2015 Egypt and Ethiopia signed the Declaration of Principles which states that the three countries should cooperate to reach an agreement on guidelines for filling the dam’s reservoir and its annual operation. After four years of negotiations, agreement seems as far away as ever.

A 1959 treaty stipulates that Egypt’s share of Nile Water is 55.5 billion cubic metres and Sudan’s 18.5 billion cubic metres. The treaty reaffirmed Egypt’s right to veto any construction projects that could impede the flow of Nile water.

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Ahramonline – Egypt

What Africa needs

By: Atteya Eissawi,

The African Economic Conference (AEC) was held on Monday in Sharm El-Sheikh to discuss issues highlighted in its theme of “Jobs, Entrepreneurship, and Capacity Development for African Youth”.

The two-day conference focused on African young people who represent more than 60 per cent of the continent’s population, estimated at 1.2 billion, and are likely to increase to 830 million by 2050.

The conference was held to discuss entrepreneurship, job opportunities, the participation of young people and women in development projects, and investment opportunities for skilled young people within the African Union’s (AU) Agenda for Sustainable Development 2063.

Since Egypt assumed the chairmanship of the AU earlier this year, it has been seeking to implement this agenda with African institutions and countries through equal and integrated cooperation.

The AU agenda targets increasing job opportunities, encouraging and financing small, medium and micro-enterprises, and developing the skills required in the labour market for agriculture, industry, and communications and digital services, among other fields.

The African Development Bank, a co-organiser of the AEC, said Egypt had been selected to host this important economic event because it was a strong and successful model for Africa.

The Sharm El-Sheikh AEC and Egypt’s previous initiatives in similar fields derive their importance from the fact that most African countries are in need of help in education and training, particularly in the establishment and management of projects.

Africa needs to provide more employment opportunities for its young people, who make up more than half of the continent’s population, and to decrease the number of skilled young people who migrate abroad.

In some African countries, up to 56 per cent of young people may be tempted to migrate due to the absence of an environment that can help them to fulfil their aspirations, thereby denying their countries the opportunity to benefit from efforts to achieve development and improve living conditions.

The World Economic Forum expects the number of Africa’s unemployed to reach 50 million by 2040. The number of working-age Africans in the 34 Sub-Saharan African countries is also expected to rise to 300 million by 2050, up from 150 million in 2014.

As a result, questions have been asked about the future of the continent’s young people and employment opportunities in 2050, since by some estimates only between six and 25 per cent of Africans of working age have steady jobs.

There are many factors that drive African young people to migrate, prime among which are unemployment, corruption, and human rights violations. Some statistics show that 50 per cent of Africans live in poverty, and in 15 years the majority of the world’s poor are estimated to be Africans. Of the 48 least-developed countries in the world, 33 are in Africa.

Malnutrition kills more than 50 per cent of children less than five years old in some African countries. Many Sub-Saharan Africans live on an average daily income of $1.25, and millions have no access to primary education, due to the insufficient number of schools and teachers, let alone tertiary education.

Hundreds of thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans annually die of diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, often due to a lack of doctors, nurses, hospitals and medicines. According to a study published in the UK medical journal The Lancet, it could take these countries more than 100 years for the stillbirth rate to drop to that in developed countries.

The AEC in Sharm El-Sheikh also focused on African women and their participation in development projects as well as enhancing their skills and capabilities.

Many African women are still denied land ownership rights and are not entitled to inherit from their fathers and husbands. Many African parents do not pay enough attention to their daughters’ education. Many women are still married off at an early age in accordance with tradition, especially in the Sub-Saharan African countries.

Moreover, many African women have to work hard in agriculture or trade, in addition to caring for their families. Women make up 70 per cent of farmers in Africa and produce 90 per cent of the food. They may suffer most in the aftermath of conflicts, becoming homeless or refugees because their husbands were either killed during fighting or simply decided to shake off their responsibilities.

In some Sub-Saharan countries, up to 56 per cent of women may have contracted HIV, and in others every minute a woman may experience an intra-uterine fetal death. One woman out of 16 in Africa dies every minute, whereas one out of 3,800 dies per minute in the developed countries.

Young girls make up the majority of African women, and many of them may suffer from homelessness as a result of conflict, hunger and malnutrition. These may be deprived of education or be given inadequate medical care. They may also be subject to rape or forced marriage or even “sold” to prospective husbands to pay off debts or find money to buy food.

The Lancet published a Stanford University study from the US saying that armed conflicts, and consequently hunger and disease, had led to the deaths of five million African children below the age of five between 1995 and 2015.

In some parts of Africa, young people have been recruited by terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram. Their poor economic prospects may lead to radicalisation and a desire to take revenge on foreign countries they see as responsible for African poverty.

Such problems have made Africa the poorest continent in the world today, despite being the richest in terms of natural resources.

According to the African Development Bank, unemployment in Africa was behind a third of the mass protests on the continent between 2014 and 2016. Unemployment in Zimbabwe and Somalia, for example, stands at 80 per cent. In 2017, 700,000 Nigerians applied for 500 jobs.

At the EU-Africa Summit held in Berlin in June 2017, then International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde said studies had showed that Africa needed $100 billion annually in infrastructure projects and 20 million new jobs to accommodate the expected population growth.

However, little has been done since, with some countries on the continent on the verge of bankruptcy and unable to provide job opportunities and dignified lives for their young people.

In other cases, such as in South Sudan, Libya and Sudan, terrorism and conflicts have left these countries with no extra money to solve young people’s problems and encourage them to take part in development projects, instead of migrating in search of job opportunities abroad.

The hopelessness that drives some African young people to protest and seek illegal migration will not be eradicated unless donor countries and institutions and African governments cooperate to develop the continent, improving the living conditions of its peoples and providing job opportunities for the unemployed.

Richer countries should provide financial assistance and expertise to upgrade Africa’s deteriorating infrastructure and set up economic projects. This should be done in tandem with African governments meeting donor conditions to fight corruption, end bureaucracy, reform tax and banking systems, and design employment policies to attract investments.

The continent’s sustainable development plans are currently estimated to cost $2.5 trillion, which the African governments cannot afford without the participation of the private sector and international financial institutions to meet the expected increase in Africa’s population to 2.5 billion by 2050.

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The New Times – Rwanda

The future is African; time to get ready for it

By: Jane Mwangi

It is safe to say without any fear of contradiction that the future is very African. The numbers speak for themselves. Over 50 per cent of Africans are under the age of 20.

This means that by 2050, four out of ten workers in the world will be from Africa and that underlines the premise that the future is very African.

A large population presents opportunities to market goods and services as there is an increase in demand, this then stimulates investments and output production leading to job creation and income per head.

According to the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (UN-OSAA), while this demographic presents great opportunities, it presents risks such as unemployment and underemployment, lack of social security, lack of educational opportunities and inclusive governance, which can drive youth to informal or even criminal activities.

To ensure that the future remains African, we have to tackle the youth poverty. Even though we can link this to youth unemployment, we have to accept that under-employment and lack of decent working conditions also plays a big role.

According to a report published by the International Labour Organisation on Youth employment in Africa, of the 38.1 per cent estimated total working poor in sub-Saharan Africa, young people account for 23.5 per cent.

This report further suggests that many workers in Africa find themselves having to take unattractive jobs that tend to be insecure and are characterised by low pay and little or no access to social protection and rights.

At 94.9 per cent, insecure employment is the main source of employment for Africa youth.

As a financier, KCB established the KCB Foundation in 2007 to implement the Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs for sustainable development and poverty reduction; focusing on SMEs, women and youth.

Further to this, we incorporated four Sustainable Development Goals as adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. These goals are; no poverty, quality education, gender equality and partnerships for the goals which all tie into our shared value programmes, CSR initiative and philanthropy.

In Kenya, the targeted skills and entrepreneurship training programme 2jiajiri has been the main engine tackling youth unemployment by providing technical skills thus creating jobs since 2016.

So far, close to 30,000 jobs have been generated in five sub-sectors; agribusiness, automotive engineering, beauty and personal care, building and construction and domestic services.

The possible effects of vocational and technical training include increased education and averted youth unemployment and to make our programmes more effective, we issue tools that are trade specific to the area of study and business. This we have done both in Kenya and Tanzania.

In the past year we have issued construction toolkits to 582 youth in Kenya. In Tanzania, 245 women supported under our empowerment programme through training on financial and business practices have been recently issued with tools of trade to grow their already existing MSMEs into SMEs.

And it is with this backdrop that we have set out to do the same – and probably more - in Rwanda. Through the Igire programme, we are sponsoring youth to study in the respective fields of Information and Communications Technology, culinary arts, tiling, welding and motor vehicle mechanics at various polytechnics in Rwanda.

In collaboration with the Rwanda National Youth Council, Igire seeks to bridge the unemployment gap through vocational training and to invest in skills acquired which if nurtured will grow and out of necessity require extra hands.

Our collective efforts will go a long way in establishing a strong pool of skilled youth and give young people a way out of poverty.

In an effort to support the Digital Literacy programme that aims to equip up to 5,000,000 Rwandans with digital skills to drive digital inclusion and growth by 2024, we are supporting the government’s efforts by putting in measures to train youth in different polytechnics.

Moreover, even though culinary arts programmes for youth development Africa is rare, most organisations around the world realise that it is more than food preparation and are engaging disenfranchised youth through programmes that teach the value of nutritious meals for the growth of a healthy nation thus our investment in it.

Recently, KCB Foundation initiated an up-skillers programme to engage youth who were already running enterprises but were limited in terms of upscaling for increased income.

This programme entails upgrading skills and teaching youth tricks of the trade along with business development services such as legal, financial literacy and marketing strategies to enable them make progress in their businesses.

This will soon be introduced in Rwanda as it is already working in Kenya through 2jiajiri.

By investing in youth people, transforming education systems and up skills training, we shape the future of millions by creating a skilled cohort of individuals prepared to create flourishing economies and peaceful societies.

If the future is truly African, Africa must arise and get ready for that future.