Politics

African leaders meet to talk job creation and labour standards

By Osiame Molefe 11 October 2011

Leaders of African states, business and labour heads are meeting in Johannesburg this week to assess the continent’s progress since adopting the International Labour Organisation’s “decent work agenda” and to fast-track growth, employment and poverty reduction. By OSIAME MOLEFE.

Unemployment , especially among young people, will top the issues on the agenda for the 12th ILO African regional conference, which starts today. While African economies have not been as severely affected by the global financial and economic crisis (the International Monetary Fund estimates growth for the region at 5.2% for 2011), Africa has failed to create jobs.

Before the global recession, most African countries were growing in excess of 5%, but despite the prodigious growth, unemployment has remained high and poverty continues unabated. Most of the continent’s youth unemployment hovers around the 25% mark. In South Africa, youths account for half of the unemployed and represent only a quarter of the workforce.

As witnessed in North Africa and in some Arab states, youth unemployment has the potential to disrupt political, economic and social systems. The stalled recovery of key export markets in the West threaten to further erode the Africa’s ability to fulfil its commitments under the ILO “decent work agenda” in Africa.

This is why, according to the ILO, the global economic crisis has, “added to an already long list of Africa’s development challenges, the main ones being poverty, the HIV/Aids pandemic, hunger, vulnerable employment, inequalities and political strife.”

The conference, to be opened by President Jacob Zuma, brings together role-players from each country to find ways to fast-track the seemingly incongruent tasks of growing the economy and employment while maintaining social cohesion, protecting the environment and maintaining international labour standards. A tough ask, but one which is necessary to change the conversation about the continent. DM



Read more:

  • Decent work agenda in Africa, on ILO.org.

Photo: REUTERS

Gallery

Are You A South AfriCAN or a South AfriCAN'T?

Maverick Insider is more than a reader revenue scheme. While not quite a "state of mind", it is a mindset: it's about believing that independent journalism makes a genuine difference to our country and it's about having the will to support that endeavour.

From the #GuptaLeaks into State Capture to the Scorpio exposés into SARS, Daily Maverick investigations have made an enormous impact on South Africa and it's political landscape. As we enter an election year, our mission to Defend Truth has never been more important. A free press is one of the essential lines of defence against election fraud; without it, national polls can turn very nasty, very quickly as we have seen recently in the Congo.

If you would like a practical, tangible way to make a difference in South Africa consider signing up to become a Maverick Insider. You choose how much to contribute and how often (monthly or annually) and in exchange, you will receive a host of awesome benefits. The greatest benefit of all (besides inner peace)? Making a real difference to a country that needs your support.


Comments

Please or create an account to view the comments. To join the conversation, sign up as a Maverick Insider.

NEWSFLASH: DAYS OF ZONDO

No free pass for Eskom’s Mr Fix-It, Jabu Mabuza

By Jessica Bezuidenhout

"Five exclamation marks - the sure sign of an insane mind." ~ Terry Pratchett