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The need for investment in creating opportunities for youth to tackle unemployment was underlined during the annual Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) conference held this week in Khartoum, Sudan.
The conference gathered researchers, policymakers and development makers from the IGAD region and looked at countries’ experiences and ways of how investment and trade will help create opportunities for the youth.
According to Dr. Ali Issa, Managing Director of the Horn Economic and Social Policy Institute, there are multiple factors contributing to youth unemployment and the challenges of creating opportunities. “Despite positive trends in some IGAD countries, including sustained economic growth and improvements in education and health, severe youth unemployment remains as the principal challenge of the region,” Issa said.
He also pointed out that the slow pace of job creation and hence low participation of the youth in domestic economic opportunities is exasperated by the lack of adequate skills, education and experience. A large portion of the vulnerable youth has yet to acquire these essential skills.
The conference also emphasized the urgency of action to be taken by member states to address youth unemployment because if this issue remains unaddressed, it could be the cause for instability.
“The youth could be an asset of productivity or a source of instability; it depends on how their potential is harnessed,” said IGAD Director of Economic Integration Division Elsadig Abdalla, during the opening.
Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Dr Abdalla Hamdok on his part stated that the region was home to Djibouti and Ethiopia which are among the ten fastest growing economies in the world. Hence countries within the region should work to enhance intra-regional trade by both strengthening regional cluster integration and lowering the cost of trade for harnessing the potential of a large and growing international market in the sub region.
Among recommendations that were suggested by attendees of the conference include opening up the boarders between countries in the continent so that mobility of people can bring more opportunities for the young population while at the same time boosting trade within the continent.