Occasional Paper

Youth Unemployment in Africa: Capacity Building and Innovative Strategies from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland

Worldwide, as well as in every African country, jobs and opportunity for the youth are consistently at the top of development agendas. By 2050, 29 percent of the total world youth population will live in Africa. For African countries, youth represent a challenge as well as an enormous opportunity, particularly now, when populations in other parts of the world are aging. Young people, while needing jobs, are also critical in creating them. This occasional paper assesses the causes and impacts of youth unemployment in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. It profiles and characterizes the status and nature of youth unemployment—and identifies the challenges, implications, and gaps—to find ways to address it. Stakeholder and expert consultations with development partners, government, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations in addressing youth unemployment were
carried out, as such research is crucial for identifying capacity gaps and key policy aspects to
address it. The consultations were complemented with a review of success stories and best
practices to inform strategies to tackle youth unemployment and refine policy approaches
toward inclusive, employment-creating, and sustainable growth strategies. The paper’s findings show that capacity gaps emerge in institutional frameworks, policy and program development and implementation, and (most important) the quality of education, notably its adequacy and relevance for addressing constraints and challenges for youth unemployment in Africa. Capacity development efforts need be directed toward potential employment-creating sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and small and medium enterprises, which can absorb the growing labor force.