From Business Day
AFRICA’s record unemployment is undermining growth and deepening poverty, the United National (UN) said in a report released today.
The continent saw unprecedented economic growth of 5.2% in 2005, but people are worse off due to a lack of jobs and higher rates of poverty than ever before, said the report released in Addis Ababa.
“Job creation lies at the heart of the poverty battle,” said Augustin Fosu of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa.
An estimated one in 10 Africans who are able to work are jobless, according to the annual report, which this year was titled “Meeting the Challenges of Unemployment and Poverty in Africa.”
Among young people, who make up more than half of Africa’s 860 million people, the situation is even worse, with one in five estimated unemployed. The UN said the real figures may be even higher.
Many young Africans searching for work try to emigrate to the West -legally or otherwise - making Africa’s joblessness a wider problem.
More than 350 million Africans live below the $1 a day international poverty threshold, most living on just 65 US cents a day, according to UN statistics.
Though the rate of 5.2% was a record for the continent, growth must climb to over 7% a year on average to significantly affect poverty, said Fosu of the Economic Commission for Africa.
“Sustained growth is precisely what is necessary in order to increase employment and reduce poverty,” he said.
“As long as people are kept from participating in the economy as productive agents, people will continue to benefit only sparsely (from) whatever growth is actually achieved.”
African governments need to address widespread youth unemployment and tap the global market to create decent jobs, the UN said.
Lawmakers must also relax barriers that hamper the growth of the private sector.
Today in Africa, most people are employed in sectors such as agriculture, which provide only seasonal temporary employment, and rarely lead to income security.
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