Category: Research Reports
Location: Lusaka
Year: 2014


Executive Summary

In most, if not all, ICGLR countries, where political and economic reconstruction efforts are underway following so many years of socio-political crisis full of civil war and sometimes conventional war, youth unemployment seems to be a major challenge. It is in this perspective that ICGLR organs have decided to pay close attention to this critical issue.

This study focuses on five ICGLR countries, namely Angola, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Generally speaking, these five countries have enormous potential especially in terms of natural resources. However, the latter are not yet properly harnessed in order to bring about a significant improvement in people‟s living conditions, especially to raise the sustainable human development level within each country.

Paradoxically, while the youth of these countries constitute an issue, they are also a tremendous asset for development.

The analysis of youth unemployment unavoidably leads to the question on their percentage in the adult population. The youth of 15-35 age group stand at nearly 40%. A comparison of this age group with the working population shows that the former is a significant percentage standing between 61 and 68%.

In Angola, the unemployment rate is high, close to 26% in average since 2007. Many Angolans are engaged in agriculture or work in informal employment. In Burundi, taking account of all classes of people seeking employment including the discouraged ones, the unemployment rate reached 21% in urban areas in 2007 compared to 19% in 2006. The mean age of the unemployed is 29, enabling us to state that youth are the most affected by unemployment.

In the Republic of Congo, whereas the unemployment rate is 16% nation-wide, 25% of the 15 – 29 age group are unemployed. The unemployment rate stands above 42% if we take into account a broader definition that includes the discouraged job seekers.

In Central African Republic, the overall unemployment rate was 20.3% in 2008 whereas the employment rate was 63.6%. The overall employment rate of 82.6% is higher in rural areas than it is in urban ones (87.6% compared to 74.8 %), due to the higher underemployment rate or hidden unemployment rate (22% in rural areas compared to 17% in urban areas).

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, if only the informal sector is considered, the unemployment rate is estimated at 96% while the overall unemployment rate is estimated at 73%. The most concerned are the youth aged 15-24 and living in urban areas, with an unemployment rate of 32.23% (2005) which stands near double the national average for the whole working population (17.8%).

To tackle the unemployment issue, each country has developed its own strategies for promoting employment among the youth, either through poverty eradication strategic frameworks or through other national programmatic mechanisms. Other initiatives from various players attempt to solve the issue.

Overall, the strategies focus on vocational training for youth through public-private partnerships; others focus on entrepreneurship with possible granting of micro-credits. Sometimes, when youth employment encounters the opacity of investment structures, transparency is then given priority through information and advertising mechanisms.

Many countries are already working on the issue of matching vocational training to employment by developing vocational training initiatives and solving in part the problem of lack of experience for which young job seekers are criticized for.

The analysis of unemployment root causes shows that the reality of the issue in these countries is interchangeable in many respects. Realities overlap from institutional, legal and regulatory weaknesses to difficulties in addressing poverty as cause of unemployment.

Among common weaknesses, we have the saturation of public service, the resulting freezing of recruitment in the sector as well as the inability to find alternatives especially to the low level of development in the private sector.

Concerning potential employment-creating sectors, in spite of each country‟s peculiarities, we have the modernisation of agriculture and cattle breeding, the development of infrastructures to support production activities, the development of new information and communication technologies, the rational and sustainable exploitation of mineral resources, the development of trade etc.

The review of youth unemployment issue shows that to combat it in an effective and sustainable manner, the States must tackle it head on by placing it among development priorities, peace building and stability.