AAIN joins FAO, partners in launching new continental youth employment programme

During a landmark two-day workshop in Ghana, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) launched a Special Youth Employment Programme to step up job creation for the youth in Africa.

The workshop which ran from the 10th to the 11th of May, 2017 in Accra attracted a host of partners including the African Union, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Food and Agriculture Ministry of Ghana, the African Development Bank, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa among other strong partners.

Hosted by Bukar Tijani, the FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Africa, the launch also featured the African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN) that was represented on the opening panel by Dr Alex Ariho the CEO.

Strategic planning

One of the major aspirations behind the workshop was the need to share the objectives and components of the new Special Programme in discussions led by the FAO partners, experts and youth in agribusiness.

“We can build a better future if we invest in it today, especially in support of agribusiness start-ups and SMEs to address the challenge of high youth unemployment. We have multiple lessons from agribusiness incubation and all partners have experience to bring to the table. The strong leadership of the FAO will be a major force behind the success of our joint work,”Dr Alex Ariho, AAIN CEO.

Rooting for increased job creation

Tagged “Enabling Decent Agriculture and Agribusiness Jobs” the programme is aimed at enhancing job creation in Sub Saharan Africa with the first phase ending in the year 2020. The initial focus countries include Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe with a likelihood of benefiting between 20 to 25 countries.

“In the next 5 to 10 years, the FAO prioritises support to the youth and this initiative will support existing and new innovations as well as models for job creation in Africa,” – Bukar Tijani, the FAO Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Africa.

While the United Nations (UN) defines ‘youth’ as people between the ages of 15 and 24 years and the  African Union (AU) defines youth as people between the ages 15 and 35, the special programme is designed along the AU definition while also taking into account the differences in aspirations, needs and challenges between the 15-24 and 25-35 age cohorts.

Timely intervention

The Special Programme by the FAO to be implemented with partners including AAIN was designed to harness development opportunities for the youth in Africa which has almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, classifies as the youngest population in the world.

This demography in which the youth population is expected to continue to grow will require the creation of 10 to 12 million new jobs Africa per year until 2035 to absorb the new labour market entrants.

Ken Lohento (Extreme right) who is the ICT for Agriculture Programme Coordinator at CTA represented the organisation which has invested largely in youth-led ICT innovations for agribusiness.

This drive is backed in part by the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods that was adopted by the African Union Heads of State and Government in June 2014, made specific commitments, among them, the urge to create job opportunities for at least 30% of youth in the agricultural value chains.