Pushing the Employment Frontiers for Africa's Rural and Urban Youth

  • Date Posted: March 25, 2014
  • Authors: John W. McArthur
  • Organizations/Projects: Global Economy and Development
  • Document Types: Primer or Brief
  • Donor Type: Non-US Government Agency

Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is growing at more than twice the pace of any other region. Although the overall rate of population expansion has been gradually declining for decades, the absolute number of working-age people will grow by approximately 14 million next year alone (Lam and Leibbrandt 2013). By 2030, when children born this year reach their 16th birthdays, the corresponding labor pool will have grown by 21 million people annually.

Private-sector job numbers have recently been growing across Africa, but not enough to keep pace with this tremendous population growth. In 2014 and beyond, African policymakers should make the creation and implementation of strategies to improve employment outcomes for its enormous youth cohorts a major priority. To succeed, these strategies will need to be tailored across the practical environments in which young Africans live.