By Shane Lawlor, Global Youth Advocate
On July 31st, the World Bank hosted its inaugural Africa Youth Forum, where speakers included World Bank officials, government representatives and social entrepreneurs. Africa receives significant coverage on its large youth population as it currently claims the largest youth population in the world, with 200 million of its citizens between the ages of 15 and 24.
Up to 11 million of these young people will enter the labor market on an annual basis, therefore the issue of youth employment underpinned the forum with the areas of education, health, good governance and entrepreneurship coming under scrutiny, issues which feature among the top 5 priorities for young Africans in the MY world survey, a reference included on the forum website.
Education and data, amongst other areas, were singled out as vital in the poverty alleviation process. World Bank representatives emphasized youth inclusion as a key stepping stone for development on the continent, where youth participation in the decision making process and overall contribution to government policy was identified as a remedy. Participants focused on their personal areas of expertise, which allowed for education to be singled out as a prerequisite to poverty reduction and its absence was mentioned as perpetuating poverty due to employment opportunities being limited, resulting in low income jobs as the alternative.
The role of data in the poverty reduction process was highlighted by World Bank and ILO officials, specifically as a method of diagnosing, in detail, the root causes of poverty and unemployment. In addition, data was singled out as a method of measuring progress as well as a way of holding governments and institutions accountable.
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