Liberia: Min. Tweah Concerned about Africa’s Future Job Deficit
Margibi County – Liberia’s Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah says there could be a reoccurrence of crisis in Africa, social tension and violence if the continent remains incapable of providing jobs for its growing population.
Report by Willie N. Tokpah, [email protected]
Speaking at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi County Wednesday, during the 22nd session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts, Minister Tweah noted that the population growth of Africa is critical and must be a serious concern of its leaders.
According to him, African will have the highest population of young people in the modern age and if the population is able to work in producing goods and services, the continent will face economic and other challenges.
“Where we see opportunities for demographic transgression to actualize the dividend, we should also be thinking that the reverse side of that is national security risk across African countries,” Minister Tweah said.
“While people are having children and the population is growing, there should be strong policies and programs on private sector land growth particularly in areas like agriculture, which will absorb a large number of Africans in the job market.”
He said for this to happen, the infrastructure growth of various African countries, to include electricity and technology growth, mobile telephone infrastructure and access to water facilities must be changed.
Minister Tweah named road infrastructure as one of the sectors that have huge deficit gap on the continent, attributing the situation to limited access to resources.
On the other hand, he expressed frustration over poor access to electricity, adding that countries among the richest in Europe have electricity per capita infrastructure than the entire African Continent.
He stressed the need for higher quality human capacity development for Africans and a change in the quality of education on the continent.
“We have children across African memorizing boring subjects that will not matter for them in their livelihood or in their job arenas for 12 years, and this has to change. We need to change the curriculum because we cannot have students in this current century using 1960 curriculum. The quality of teachers and what they are teaching have to change,” Tweah said.
He further suggested that a change in the agriculture industry of Africa is another way by which its nations can provide jobs for the growing population while calling on banking institutions across Africa to pour finances into the agriculture sector.
“Everything that people eat is grown, so the return to the sector should be high, so let lend money into the sector and give more time to the farmers to pay back. We give money to countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone to pay back in five years, but we don’t do that for the farmers,” Tweah asserted.
At the same time, Tweah said unless a shift in policy like recognizing the need for regional integration, Africa would find difficulties in its policy transformation.
Meanwhile, Tweah proposed that Africa moves toward a common currency, which he argues will strengthen a bond for regional integration within its boundaries.
Said Tweah: “West Africa has been talking about a common currency for a time now, and I want to say, let this deliberation challenged West African Presidents, governments to move towards a common currency within two to three years.”
For his part, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Director for Sub-Regional Office in West Africa Bakary Dosso said progress in the subregion is relatively weak at the social level.
“To just give example, in two countries of our subregion, more than 1,000 women die giving birth based on 100,000 live births.
“Comparing this figure to the global level of 200 and the sustainable development goal of 70, we can easily measure the challenge to meet this health-related SDG,” Dosso averred.
He also supports calls for improving the quality and duration of education in Africa, expressing disenchantment of students leaving schools without acquiring minimum skills required.
Mr. Dosso added that risk posed by climate change on Africa, which he believes has the likelihood of affecting the economic and social performance of the region.
Meanwhile, Dosso cautioned that West Africa is warming faster than the world with additional level 3.88 degree Celsius against a global average of 2.2 degrees every 100 years, emphasizing the need to prioritize protecting the continent’s environment.
The 22nd session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts addressed the theme, “Demographic Dynamics at the service of sustainable development in West Africa, challenges and policy measures.