Are prospects of rural youth employment in Africa a mirage?
This article on the Inter Press Service (IPS) discusses the dismissal of productive employment of youth in rural areas in Africa as a mirage largely because they exhibit strong resistance to eking out a bare subsistence in dismal working and living conditions. The authors argue on recent evidence of agricultural transformation that this view is overly pessimistic, if not largely mistaken. There will be vast opportunities for the innovative young people in agricultural systems as they adapt to a range of challenges in the near future. To create opportunities commensurate with the number of young people who will need employment, constraints on the acquisition of capital, land, and skills must be removed or relaxed. Allowing alternative forms of collateral can ease the credit constraints-especially for young farmers. The two aspects of land administration that matter most to young entrants to the labor force are the need to improve security of tenure and the need to relax controls on rental. Land redistribution will also enhance young people’s access to land. In order to enable young people to respond to the environmental, economic and nutrition challenges of the future, they must develop suitable capacities. A case in point is ICTs which can develop young people’s capacities, while improving communication and easing access to information and decision-making processes. In sum, there is an abundance of remunerative employment opportunities for the youth in rural areas that could dispel the mirage through imaginative government policies.