The youth unemployment rate in Africa is expected to exceed 30% this year, and young people will continue to be 3.5 times more likely than adults to be unemployed, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has announced.
Speaking at a ministerial conference on Africa’s social development, labour and employment in Addis Ababa, ILO assistant director general and regional director for Africa, Cynthia Olonjuwon, said over 63 % of the total working-age population of the continent participates in the labour market, although the participation rate ranges from 46% in Northern Africa to 68% in sub-Saharan Africa.
However 4.3% of Africa’s working-age population is unemployed. It is important to note that for a large part of the African population unemployment is not an option she said, adding northern Africa has the highest unemployment rate due to mostly high unemployment rates among young people (ages 15–24) and women.
“Working poverty continues to be widespread; around 250 million workers in Africa were living in extreme or moderate poverty in 2018. Although gender inequality in the labour market is also a regional phenomenon, it is worth noting that gender gaps are widest in Northern Africa,” Olonjuwon said.
And unemployment rates are lower in the other sub-regions of Africa. However, the aggregate value masks a high degree of diversity across different countries. For instance, the national unemployment rates projected for 2019 range from 1.8% in Ethiopia, 6.0% in Nigeria, and 18.2 % in Botswana, to 27.3 % in South Africa,
According to ILO, many workers in Africa find themselves having to take unattractive jobs that tend to be insecure and are characterized by low pay, and little or no access to social protection and rights. This leads to a very high share of insecure employment, constituting almost 90% of total employment in Africa. At 94.9%, insecure employment is the main source of employment for African youth.