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JKP Google Hangout Series: Youth Employment in Sub Saharan Africa

May 6, 2014

Africa has the youngest population in the world. Currently almost 200 million Africans are aged between 15 and 24 and in Sub-Saharan Africa the median person is 18 years old — seven years younger than the median age in South Asia, the next youngest region. Moreover, by 2045 the number of young people in Africa is set to double. This 'demographic dividend' offers a unique opportunity for countries to benefit from the skills and resources of a youthful workforce; however, if countries fail to create sufficient economic opportunities for this group, the potential outcomes are worrying. Given the existing structure of economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the fact that today's youth are generally better educated than their parents, where will these young people find productive work? In the same sectors as their parents? Or are there new opportunities? Is there a gender dimension involved, and what can policymakers do to address these issues? Deon Filmer and Louise Fox recently published a comprehensive, 280-page report on Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa that deals with these and many other related questions. In this Google Hangout*, Deon and Louise talk about the main findings of their work, with Ahmadou Aly Mbaye as the discussant. Mary Hallward-Driemeier chaired the discussion. * This JKP Google Hangout has been co-ordinated by the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) at the University of Cape Town, a regional partner of the Jobs Knowledge Platform.