Recently, Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala gave a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies outlining the steps that need to be taken to improve economic development in Africa by creating jobs and reducing unemployment. Here are the five steps Okonjo-Iweala outlined for creating economic growth in Africa and developing jobs for young people across the continent.
- Develop a critical infrastructure. The lack of modern infrastructure in Africa costs the continent “at least 2% in GDP growth annually.” Among the systems that Africa needs to develop are an expansive electrical grid, roads, railways, and communications. These systems allow for more efficient production and transportation of goods, allowing for increased economic output. Additionally, the continent needs to work on establishing clean water and sanitation systems, which will result in improved public health.
- Develop human capital. Africa must invest in the skills of its people in order to advance their standard of living. Currently, “33 million primary school-aged children in Sub Saharan Africa do not go to school,” and “40% of Africans over the age of 15 and 50% of women above the age of 25 are illiterate.” Africans need improved access to education in order to work in skilled trades and earn higher wages.
- Build safety nets. Throughout Africa, there are few systems that are established to help citizens who are living in poverty or have been negatively impacted by natural disasters. Okonio-Iweala states that Africa must work to establish tax systems to collect revenue for providing assistance to those in need throughout the continent.
- Address a growing population. In 2010, Africa was home to more than 1 billion people. The population of Africa is expected to double to 2 billion people by the year 2050. In order to help alleviate poverty in the continent, a focus should be placed on family planning. By reducing the number of births per woman in Africa, the overall GDP per capita will increase, resulting in a higher standard of living for Africans.
- Embrace Africa’s youthful population. Africa’s youth represents the future of the continent. By establishing programs that focus on the intellectual development and health improvement of young Africans, the continent will make an investment in its future. Africa has true potential for future economic growth if the continent’s nations invest in its young population, providing them with the tools they need to be successful in a global economy.
– Jordan Kline