Structural transformation to boost youth labour demand in sub-Saharan Africa: The role of agriculture, rural areas and territorial development
This paper (PDF) by the International Labour Organization (ILO), explores the opportunities that economic diversification offers to foster structural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) while absorbing the growing youth labour force and providing them with the requisite skills. The paper focuses on structural transformation and the identification of possible building blocks for boosting youth employment in SSA. The first section details past processes of structural transformation and new challenges. The second section addresses the unique structural situation of SSA, its employment challenges and the enduring importance of the rural labour force. The third section reviews the existing policy options for speeding up SSA’s structural transformation, the limitations of segmented sector-based policies and the importance of reinvesting in multi-sectoral and place-based development strategies. The fourth section considers the rural economy and the need for renewed public policies adapted to the current realities of the region, notably the fading rural–urban divide. This new context requires a better understanding of the underlying processes of change – in particular, the growing pressure on land and natural resources and the consequences for viable agricultural systems. Section 5 concludes with policy recommendations for an inclusive growth process for youth employment. The paper considers that African youth are the key to the “African equation” and represent a major opportunity for SSA’s structural transformation. Because the replication of past transformation pathways is impossible, African civil societies, governments, entrepreneurs and youth have to invent a new development model, based on an inclusive and green development process for sustainable cities and rural areas. Achieving this new model will require political leadership, strong stakeholder engagement, and continuous research and evidence building to better understand what works to improve the labour market outcomes of youth.