Africa must industrialize: ILO official

International Labor Organization director believes that adequate job opportunities for Africa will be more easily available

Africa must industrialize: ILO official
World Bulletin / News Desk
The International Labor Organization (ILO)'s regional director for Africa, Aeneas C. Chuma, believes Africa should focus on industrialization in order to provide its people with adequate job opportunities.

Chuma's call came after a meeting with representatives from African embassies in Addis Ababa to brief them on plans to hold an African Regional Meeting from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 of this year in the Ethiopian capital.

According to Chuma, Africa suffers from two major employment problems.

"There have not been enough jobs; and, second, the quality of jobs is largely based on the export of primary products where there is a very basic type of job with very little value addition," he said.

African countries, he said, should explore ways of encouraging organizations and companies to create jobs that are of high value and pay well.

"This is the challenge that we need to address," he asserted.

He added, however, that the unemployment problem was not limited to Africa.

"[It is] just much sharper in Africa because of its [the continent's] very young population, coming out of school well-educated and healthy and finding no opportunities for work," he said.

He added: "We have to ask what type of macro-economic growth do you want to promote here? We need to look at a policy that generates growth, decent jobs and decent salaries so that people can address issues of poverty."

"There has been growth in the economy and there has been growth in jobs," he went on. "But that growth has not been enough to absorb the large numbers of graduates."

He cited a saying coined by former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi: "We grew as an economy, but we didn't transform."

The key to desired transformation, according to the ILO official, is to push countries to develop industrialization policies.

"We have been selling copper the last hundred years and we still sell coffee beans, not coffee. This needs to be the next strategy for Africa's development: how to transform. This is how we get high-quality, well-paid jobs," he said.

"We have to get in to industry; we have to get in to manufacturing. Look at the composition of GDP [in African countries]. Manufacturing's contribution is very small, which is an indicator of whether a country is advanced or not," he added.

More than 20 embassy representatives attended the briefing on the upcoming regional meeting, which is expected to define the organization's strategic direction in Africa for the next decade.

"The meeting touched on what it is that we should focus on [at the upcoming regional meet], what the priorities are, and how we should use our technical knowledge and competencies to support African countries," Chuma told AA.

Employment issues are expected to take center stage at the meeting, in which all 54 African nations are expected to take part.

Each country is expected to send four representatives to the meeting: two from government, one from employers' associations and one from employees' associations.

"Towards inclusive and sustainable development in Africa through decent work" will be the theme of the meeting, reflecting the ILO's main priorities in Africa, namely, job creation (particularly for the youth), social protection, and fair and effective labor migration.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Ocak 2015, 17:55