Thursday, September 12, 2013

“Youth of the biggest challenges”

IITA DG, Dr Sanginga addressing youths in Ibadan

Among the challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa is the spiralling rate of unemployment among the growing youth population. Reports from the Africa Economic Outlook indicate that 60% of the continent’s unemployed are aged between 15 and 24 and more than half of these, many of them women, have given up efforts to find work.

The situation is likely to worsen if nothing is done to halt the trend as the numbers are set to double by 2045.For Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, “Youth unemployment in Nigeria is a critical national issue and is one of the biggest challenges.” In Kenya, youth unemployment has reached crisis proportions with an estimated 64% of unemployed persons younger than 25years old. The resigned idleness of rural youth is also in evidence in DR Congo, Tanzania, and Zambia where poor incentives exist to better one’s life through hard work. A few hours of “routine” morning efforts in home food gardens are followed by aimless socializing in  local canteens. To address this concern, IITA under the leadership of Dr Nteranya Sanginga has initiated a youth program as a model to address unemployment using agriculture as a tool. The plan is to encourage the youth to tap the many opportunities inherent in agriculture. The project exposes young graduates to the different opportunities in agriculture and allows them to identify entry points in the agricultural value chains where they could play a role. At the core is capacity building for the young that propels independent thinking and engenders problem solving.

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