1. If you look at the 3 regions that we focus on (MENA, Horn of Africa, Sahel) – can you mention specific trends per region which are relevant for the strategy. Are there, for example, specific sectors where there is much to be gained? Or specific skills that young people lack in a certain region or sector?
Having observed and led quite a few youth employment programs in Africa, the challenges, at their core, are quite similar. Considering the multitude of reforms African countries are going through, in terms of governance and banking, but especially with the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, the youth strategy should be aligned with these initiatives allowing a stronger implementation of already existing policies/ frameworks. A stand-alone youth strategy without considering already existing private sector development efforts per country but also as a region would be futile. In terms of trends, I would focus on high-growth sectors with an increasing demand for skilled employees: MENA: tourism, offshoring and transport/ construction SSA: IT, Health, Agriculture/ infrastructure In short, technology and globalization (which will be further strengthened by the AfCTA) can transform Africa but only if it is led by young people. Currently, many young people don’t see themselves as being part of the system and this is a big problem to creating productive engagement and leadership.
2. Do you have examples of successful "scaled up" initiatives / programs in the field of education and work to increase youth employment, and if so, which ones? Or do you know of certain successful initiatives that are worth scaling up in the 3 regions mentioned?
Few examples of successful project in MENA/SSA regions.
• Generation project (McKinsey) in Kenya www.generation.org • Luminus Education (TVET) in Jordan (works with Syrian refugees as well) • AdvTech (TVET) in South Africa • Maharishi University in South Africa, who is providing affordable quality education to the underserved youth with a strong employability aspect. 70% of their students are female, 50%+ suffering from post-traumatic stress. They have agreements with top employers in the region to place their graduates with a 98%+ employment rate
3. Do you have specific ideas or additions about how we can make young people part of this policy? How do we ensure that they participate in the implementation of this strategy?
I’m against “youth participation” as a separate component to a larger strategy as it creates a false involvement for the sake of participation in itself. Africa is youth. The largest companies are being led by young people. Young, dynamic tech leaders should not only be involved but lead the implementation efforts. African entrepreneurs, especially in IT/ trade, have experienced the problems of youth unemployment in their countries at a daily basis and understand the underlying issues unlike civil servants or bankers. Create youth-led African SMEs clubs, peer-to-peer training programs. Any youth strategy/ program that lacks youth leaders in its leadership (not participation) can never become successful. African countries already understand that the youth of today have a better understanding of the future than they have; just look at the number of young advisors to Presidents, young ministers etc. If the policy supports young leaders in the continent, then, in turn those same young (business and government) leaders can transform their own communities.
4. Anything else you feel is worth mentioning?
I think a country like the Netherlands can play a role in making African companies find different ways of assessing talent. The 3 regions have a large pool of talented youth but are still being assessed through outdated methods. Take an unconventional look at talents because the European/ US system is different from the African's.