Over the past decade and a half, Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced rapid economic growth at an average annual rate of 5.5%. But since 2008, the share of manufacturing in GDP across the continent has stagnated at around 10%. This calls into question as to whether African economies have undergone structural transformation – the reallocation of economic activity across broad sectors -- which is considered vital for sustained economic growth in the long-run.
Middle East and North Africa
Over the past decade, there has been an almost exponential rise in international remittances. We from recent research that remittances are critical for the well-being of individual households in developing countries – helping them to emerge from poverty, send their children to school, and invest in small enterprises, health, education and housing. Yet not much is known about determinants of remittance flows within transnational households (those with one or more members working abroad), an increasingly important topic for policy makers with the sums involved.
Over the summer I was part of a team looking at the potential impact that an influx of Syrian refugees could have on labor markets in Lebanon. Indeed, as of August 2013, over 914,000 people had crossed the border between Lebanon and Syria because of the Syrian conflict.
As part of our discussion on creating jobs and expanding social protection in post-conflict and fragile states, we focus in on the Middle East — specifically Yemen. As is the case in sub-Saharan Africa, fragile states must contend with high youth unemployment, scarce formal sector jobs, weak institutions, and a lack of social protection, on top of the loss of lives, assets, education, and disruption from the conflict itself. The JKP recently spoke with Abdullah Al-Dailami, Acting Managing Director of the Social Fund for Development (SFD), who says that a major emphasis now is providing access to financial and non-financial services to help people engage in self-employment.
In Tunisia, around 40 percent of youth are unemployed, many of them with only a secondary education or less. To help them find jobs, the government is undertaking a comprehensive reform of its active labor market programs. The JKP recently spoke with Mohsen Bentouati—Sub-Director of Employment Programs, Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment—about the planned introduction of a biometric identification card. It will be used to monitor the operation of the programs, the use of services, and to make payments, along with ensuring that the people targeted are those most likely to benefit.
"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
~ Benjamin Franklin ~
Travel and learning have always gone hand in hand. With the option of virtual travel, learning and information sharing have never been easier. We are presented with endless opportunities to discuss, interact and share experiences. Hopefully, this will help us come up with creative ideas for global solutions. The World Bank's Community of Practice hopes to do just that. Born out of a desire of various countries faced with similar challenges to share best practices, the community facilitates South-South learning between practitioners.
I am back to Same, Ecuador for the holidays. People here are busy getting ready to receive the tourists. Most will come after Christmas though, so things are still quiet. It's a good time to look back at the year and see what has happened on the jobs front.
For the Middle East and North Africa, a major challenge is creating meaningful and plentiful job opportunities. How can this be done? We spoke with Neveen El Tahri, Chairwoman and Managing Director of Delta Shield for Investment, an organization she founded to mentor Egyptian entrepreneurs.
The “Arab Spring,” which began in Tunisia in December 2010, heard calls for jobs, dignity, better governance, and a more inclusive growth model. Over a year later, how is Tunisia doing on the labor front? We spoke with Radhi Meddeb – President of Action et Développement Solidaire (a Tunisian civil society group), Chairman of COMETE Engineering Group, and Chairman of IPEMED (a Euro-Mediterranean think-tank). He cites job creation as the nation’s top priority.
Youth unemployment (ages 15-24) is often two to three times total unemployment, and the picture is particularly bleak in the Middle East and North Africa. University of Minnesota professor Ragui Assaad specializes in labor policy, informal markets, and urban planning in developing countries. We asked his thoughts on the youth job picture in the Arab countries, including the role of unemployment in the Arab Spring, current youth expectations, and the prospects for dynamic private sectors.