In recent years, China’s presence in sub-Saharan Africa has risen rapidly. Many fear that China spells doom for the Kenyan economy. Producers of manufactured goods, for example, face more competition from China in both foreign and domestic markets. Others argue that China will exploit Kenya’s resources and leave it unable to industrialize. If the manufacturing sector fails to take off, it will be harder to move people out of poverty.
Last year two of my friends welcomed new babies into their families: James and Maureen (not their real names). Both babies were born in Metropolitan Nairobi - the fastest growing urban area in the country. Their births added to the growing urban popluation in Kenya, which will double to 24 million by 2035 and more than triple to 40 million by 2050. The Kenya Urbanization Review projects that by that time, that there will be nearly as many Kenyans living in urban areas as there are Kenyans today. Kenya’s urban transition has begun.
In Nigeria, Africa’s largest and most populous country, more women are engaging in work than ever before. By 2011, more than half (57%) of women 15-64 years old were in some form of employment. The increase in women working has been driven by women with the least amount of schooling finding work –these are the women who are more likely to be out of work than those who have had access to more schooling.
Firmin enchaîne les petits boulots. Vendeur de rue, menuisier, jardinier. Voilà deux ans qu'il est arrivé à Abidjan en provenance de son village natal avec l'aspiration d’intégrer l'École nationale de police d’Abidjan. Comme lui, des centaines de milliers de jeunes ivoiriens arrivent chaque année sur le marché du travail. La Côte d’Ivoire compte aujourd'hui 14 millions de travailleurs et en aura 22 millions d’ici 10 ans. Il faudra leur offrir un emploi stable et un revenu décent.
Firmin gets by doing small odd jobs. One day he is a street vendor, the next day a carpenter, and on other days he’s a gardener. He arrived in Abidjan two years ago with high hopes of joining the National Police Academy. His story resembles that of thousands of Ivorians who join the domestic workforce each year. Today, there are about 14 million people of age to work in the country, and by 2025, there will be approximately 22 million - all of whom seek a secure well-paying job.
Tanzania has undoubtedly performed well over the past decade, with growth that has averaged approximately 7% per year, thanks to the emergence of a few strategic areas such as communication, finance, construction, and transport. However, this remarkable performance may not be enough to provide a sufficient number of decent or productive jobs to a fast-growing population that will double in the next 15 years. With a current workforce of about 20 million workers and an unemployment rate of only 2%, the challenge for Tanzanians clearly does not lie with securing a job. Rather, it is to secure a job with decent earnings.
When it comes to helping young women in Africa with both economic and social opportunity, what does the evidence tell us? Broadcaster Georges Collinet sat down with researchers and policymakers to discuss the hard evidence behind two programs that have succeeded in giving girls a better chance at getting started in their adult lives.
Jobs are central to our lives: after all, we spend most of our time at work, trying to make a living. And it’s not just about what we earn. As the 2013 World Development Report argues, our work fundamentally defines who we are as people with important implications for our social relations and psychological well-being.
Each year, there are one million new Kenyans. Unlike in the past, this rapid population growth is driven by people living longer instead of having more children. This means that an increasing share of the population is of working age. What does it mean for Kenya’s economy and social stability? How can these young adults find a job—ideally a good job—and what needs to be done to help them succeed?
Throughout the developing world, productive-employment-intensive growth remains a challenge. In Africa, it is almost a crisis, with most of the labor force working in low-productivity, informal-sector jobs, and 7-10 million young people entering the labor force every year. That the unemployment rate in South Africa—the continent’s largest economy—has remained around 25 percent is particularly troubling.