AFRI CONVERSE 2022 #1 Special Edition: Promoting Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship in partnership with public and private sectors

February 21, 2022

Africa has the youngest population in the world with more than 400 million people aged between the ages of 15 to 35 years. It is this young population who will drive the future of the continent. Their success or failure will also be that of the continent as a whole. Therefore, investing in youth to become leaders in government, civil society, and industry, and as agents of change, is critical not just for the future but right now for the continent.

However, the dire employment situation, with limited economic opportunities for youth across Africa continues to snuff out their potential. According to the African Development Bank, in 2015, one-third of Africa's 420 million young people were unemployed, another third vulnerably employed, and only 1 in 6 was in wage employment. Furthermore, the majority of those employed worked in the informal sector, struggling to live a stable life due to low and irregular wages and lack of access to social safety nets, which is more felt by the vulnerable populations, including young women, displaced and refugee youth. The African Development bank estimates that while 10 million to 12 million youth enter the workforce in Africa each year, only 3 million formal jobs are created annually. As a result, most young people end up being self-employed in microenterprises where they earn just enough to survive, but not enough to create jobs and pursue additional opportunities to improve their lives.

Among those unemployed, young women are particularly faced with greater challenges and barriers to employment, constituting 35% of the NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) population in Africa, compared to 20% of young men. The significant gender gap in employment is due to many factors, including persistence of discriminatory social norms and legal systems, unequal sharing of unpaid care responsibilities, safety and security concerns impacting women’s mobility, narrow fields of work traditionally open to women with concentration of women in low paying professions and spheres of activity, and limited access to financing and mentorship for women to start their own enterprises. In order to promote inclusive growth in youth employment and entrepreneurship, it is important that special attention is paid to addressing gender barriers, as well as to special needs of other disadvantaged youth groups such as persons with disabilities, rural youth, and displaced and refugee youth.

For Africa to effectively harness its youth demographic dividend, one of the solutions aspired to by the African Union and its member states is for youth to become job creators. Youth entrepreneurship is seen as an enabler to scale new economic and technological opportunities with their passion, creativity, and innovation. Unlocking and harnessing their potential to establish growth-oriented enterprises is critical for the continent to thrive. As a tailwind, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a single free trade market aiming at uniting 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of over $3 trillion, which will eliminate trade barriers and allow free movement of people and goods, is expected to spur new companies to generate new products and jobs. Such transformation requires a continental level effort to engage and empower Africa’s youth through strategic investments, policies and programmes including mentorship, business incubation, and affordable financing for young population.

The 1st session of AFRI CONVERSE in 2022 will examine best practices and lessons learnt through the multi-dimensional approaches initiated by bilateral and international organizations to promote youth employment and entrepreneurship and discuss the way-forward with a foresight of post-COVID growth, and considering possibilities to generate more inclusive, resilient and green jobs and businesses. Looking ahead to TICAD8 in 2022, the AFRI CONVERSE will pave the way for further high-level engagement at the Summit, where key stakeholders including heads of states will agree on a pathway to pursue sustainable growth of the continent. 


●Ms. Khalida Bouzar, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, UNDP

●Ms. Hiroe Ono, Deputy Director General, Middle East and Europe Department, JICA

●Mr. Daniel Elliot Kwantwi, CEO, TranSoniCa Company Limited (Ghana)

●Ms. Leila Ben Gacem, Founder, Blue Fish (Tunisia)


Tetsuo Kondo, Director, Representation Office in Tokyo, UNDP

AFRI CONVERSE 2022 #1 Special Edition: Promoting Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship in partnership with public and private sectors

Date:   Friday 25th February 2022, 19:30-21:00pm (JPN)/5:30-7:00am (NY)

19:30~19:35 Introduction

19:35~20:05 Primary remarks/presentation by each speaker (@7 minute each)

20:05~20:30 Interaction with a moderator

20:30~21:00 Q&A

Venue:Online (Zoom)

- Participation: Free

-Language:English/French/Japanese/Arabic (simultaneous interpretation)

-Co-organizer:JICA, UNDP

Registration: Required from the website below.


Chika Kondoh, TICAD Partnership Specialist, UNDP Tokyo Office ( Tel: 03-5467-4751

Minami Matsumura, Africa Department, JICA ( Tel: 03-5226-8260