COVID-19 is likely to increase youth unemployment in Africa, this is how business can mitigate the damage

black

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Chido Munyati, Knowledge Lead, Africa, World Economic Forum


  • Nearly 20 million jobs in Africa will be threatened by the COVID-19 crisis. With youth unemployment twice that of adults, the potential for social unrest is real.
  • Transformation Maps are a knowledge tool that can help stakeholders move from anecdotal evidence to a more rigorous and systematic understanding of the drivers of conflict and resilience.
  • By adressing the drivers of conflict, companies can help reduce the risk of conflict, and better ensure the long-term preservation and resilience of their businesses.

A report by the Africa Union estimates that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “nearly 20 million jobs, both in the formal and informal sectors, are threatened with destruction”. The resulting potential for social unrest is largely due to the disproportionately-affected youth demographic (15-24 years), whose level of unemployment is twice that of older adults.

The world’s youngest continent

Africa is demographically the world’s youngest continent. By 2030, one fifth of the global labour force – and nearly one third of the global youth labour force – will be from this region. While 10 to 12 million youth enter the workforce each year, only 3 million formal jobs are created. Indeed, the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will likely exacerbate this trend. Notably, in the first month of the crisis, it has been estimated that the income of informal workers in the region dropped by 81%. In Africa, 85.8% of employment, and 95% of youth employment, is informal. The ILO defines informal employment as “employment without legal or social protection”. This work is often characterized by low pay, erratic hours, uncertain employment status, and hazardous working conditions.

Largescale youth unemployment leads to unrest

Worryingly, the combination of the region’s demographic dividend and the first recession in 25 years will probably increase the risk of social unrest. There is a considerable body of literature that argues, both from theoretical and empirical perspectives, that large youth unemployment – associated with socioeconomic inequalities and corruption – is a driver for instability and national insecurity. For example, access to quality jobs was a central demand and a key driver of the Arab Spring protests. Moreover, in the Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020 report, for the second year running, business identified “unemployment or underemployment” as the top risk in the region.

The private sector has a role to play

While the primary responsibility for peace, security and development must rest with governments, we are witnessing a growing acceptance and enquiry into multitrack approaches to conflict prevention, whereby private-sector efforts complement those of the public and civil society sectors. An analysis of patterns across case studies suggests that companies can help establish or sustain peace, or mitigate conflict. Attempts have been made to develop a theoretical framework for measuring the effects of private-sector activities on the development of peace and security.

Effectiveness in conflict prevention and peacebuilding flows from intervention into the key driving factors of conflict – factors without which the conflict would not exist or would be significantly different.

To the extent that private-sector actors aspire to change the driving factors of conflict and violence sufficient to achieve positive outcomes, there needs to be a clear theory of change, which analyses the key drivers of conflict and resilience, and conceptualizes strategies for transforming conflict dynamics. Transformation Maps are a knowledge tool that can help stakeholders move from anecdotal evidence to a more rigorous and systematic understanding of the drivers of conflict and resilience.

Part of a systems approach to conflict prevention

Importantly, any role for business can only complement other elements of conflict prevention and should not be seen as distinct. One implication of a systems perspective to conflict prevention and peacebuilding is that the effect of any intervention derives from the impacts that the activities have on drivers of conflict within a larger conflict system, and not from any intrinsic good that comes from a particular standalone activity.

For example, an estimated 9 million people (mostly youth) in Africa are directly involved in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) – and an additional 54 million indirectly depend on ASM for their livelihoods. (In most African countries, 5-20% of the population directly depends on ASM.) However, almost all ASM activities are informal and occur outside of legal frameworks. Consequently, the illegal trade of minerals contributes to violent conflicts.

Global mining companies are attempting to address these discrete drivers of conflict – vulnerable employment, inequality and exclusion – by providing artisanal miners with geological, value-addition and administrative support. But these local-level interventions must be integrated into regional and international regional mechanisms that legalize and formalize ASM activities.

By weakening or transforming the drivers of conflict, companies can help reduce the risk of conflict, and better ensure the long-term preservation and resilience of their businesses.

In all cases, these interventions should be undertaken in ways that acknowledge the primacy of local actors, are sensitive to the complex context, and help build trust and confidence.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be an even greater demand for job security in Africa; and there will be a need to further develop inclusive business models that facilitate young people’s transition to the formal economy, which in turn will reduce the risk of instability.

This article first appeared on CNBC Africa

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

REACT-EU: EU support to mitigate immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis

Korea must enhance detection and reinforce sanctions to boost foreign bribery enforcement

Draghi hands over to banks €77.7 billion more

Here’s the secret to financing a greener future

Why EU’s working and unemployed millions remain uncertain or even desperate about their future

Companies that put employees first perform better

38th ACP-EU Assembly: dialogue on cooperation challenges in Kigali

Privatization as a symptom of health inequity

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “If we do not do properly the Paris agreement, then all 16 remaining goals will be undermined”, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautions from Davos

To beat hunger and combat climate change, world must ‘scale-up’ soil health – UN

In visit to hurricane-ravaged Bahamas, UN chief calls for greater action to address climate change

Trade with the United States: Council authorises negotiations on elimination of tariffs for industrial goods and on conformity assessment

Iran: BBC and other broadcast journalists harassed; families threatened – UN experts

Why developing new antibiotics is a matter of life and death

7 shocking statistics that show the cost of corruption

Lithuania finds the ways to maintain its energy security

Migration crisis update: The “Habsburg Empire” comes back to life while EU loses control

Under fire, UN refugee agency evacuates 135 detained in Libya to Niger

State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty

Alarming level of reprisals against activists, human rights defenders, and victims – new UN report

Infrastructural and system barriers to Universal Health Coverage: get in my patient’s shoes

Some truths about the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization

Visa-free access to the EU for UK nationals and to the UK for EU nationals

Improving Italy’s capital market will boost growth opportunities for Italian companies and savers

Cyber-Risk Assessments: the vaccine for companies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

These Asian economies invested in their people – and it paid off

Progress made at COP25, despite lack of agreement to increase climate ambition

4 innovation hotspots in the Arab world

This Scottish forest is both a home for wildlife and a boost for the local economy

EU mobilises immediate support for its Western Balkan partners to tackle coronavirus

Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit to differ when issued from 10 Downing St.

“There are many converging visions and interests between the One Belt One Road initiative and the Juncker Investment Plan”, Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU highlights from Brussels

Humanitarian aid: EU steps up support in Nigeria for conflict victims

The EU Commission openly repudiates the austere economic policies

No hard drivers in sight to remodel the stagnating affairs of the EU

Chart of the day: These countries have the highest share of electric vehicles

Successful carbon removal depends on these 3 conditions

ISIS fighters fleeing Mosul for Syria can topple Assad. Why did the US now decide to uproot them from Iraq?

“Is Europe innovative? Oh, Yes we are very innovative!”, Director General of the European Commission Mr Robert-Jan Smits on another Sting Exclusive

UN must bring more women police officers into the fold to be effective – UN peacekeeping official

The Free World Experience Report – LGBTQI+ health on the spot

Trump badly cornered at home by agribusiness and steel consumer lobbies: Trade

ZTE @ MWC14: ZTE excels in all areas at this year’s Mobile World Congress

Egypt: The road to hell paved with western advices for democracy

UN launches new framework to strengthen fight against terrorism

Syria war: executions condemned as violence continues ‘on both sides’ of border with Turkey

This UK footballer just won free school meals for kids in the summer holidays

MWC 2016 LIVE: Zuckerberg warns mobile industry not to ignore the unconnected

CO2 emissions around the world

COP21 Breaking News: China has promised to cut emissions from its coal power plants by 60% by 2020

Rising landmine blast toll in Afghanistan highlights long-term care needs of survivors

Topic: Mental Health in times of pandemic: What can each individual do to lessen the burden?

25 years on from landmark conference, millions of women and girls still in danger: UN deputy chief

Nigeria: UN chief ‘appalled’ by killing of aid worker; calls for release of remaining hostages

How a new approach to meat can help end hunger

Why social working cultures are happier and more productive

EU: Divided they stand on immigration and Trump hurricanes

TTIP: why it is worth not to pull the covers over your head?

Leading Palestinian legislator calls for ‘new international engagement’ in two-state solution

UN mosquito sterilization technology set for global testing, in battle against malaria, dengue

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s