The Deputy Director-General UNIDO, Mr. Yoshiteru Uramoto yesterday revealed at the multi-stakeholder programme for productive and decent work for youth in the Mano River Union countries seminar that globally, the situation of youth today is characterized by extreme disparities in terms of economic, technological, social and cultural resources.
These resources he said vary enormously across regions, countries as well as population groups noting that there is compelling evidence of a global situation in which youth face increasing difficulties when entering the labour force. “There is a global deficit of decent work opportunities” he said.
He confirmed that they were working in collaboration with other UN agencies and private sector and public financial institutions in the MRU to develop programmes that would stimulate rural economies in Africa and to provide employment opportunities in the sub-region.
The world he stated is experiencing its highest percentage of youth in total population. He added that in the Mano River Union sub-region, 4.5 million youth, aged between 15 and 29, are seeking jobs. It is estimated that about 32 million people live in the Mano River Union Countries (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’ Ivore). Data from UNFPA predicts that by 2020 about 52% of the population in this sub-region will be residing in Urban areas and with a large proportion of the youth, – this has far reaching implications for social and economic development for the sub-region he said.
Accordingly he said the youth also needs a voice in decisions that affect their lives. “Let us give chances to the youth so that they can actively participate in the debates and subsequent planning of our future interventions” he said.
Further more, he said UNIDO believes that investments in productive activities, provide the most sustainable opportunity for job creation, and thus productively engaging young people in a sustainable manner, meeting their aspirations and promoting economic progress.
In his remarks, the Secretary General of the Mano River Union, Ibrahim Toure stated that the conviction of his Secretariat is quite simple and corresponds to an experience of common sense. “The best vector of integration, besides the free movement of goods and services, it is young people who are occupied” he noted. He requested young people to be united and to see beyond the national borders, as everything is inter related, the youths he went on are future decision makers of our respective countries and if they don’t consider themselves as active members of societies, they would then develop an anti-social behaviour that would be very harmful to our peace and stability.
One of the reason why Africa is torn apart he said is due to the lack of policy of integration, as such unemployed youths develop irresponsible chauvinism and entertain feelings of xenophobia.
He said the forum would serve as experience sharing session among youths and their leaders from the Mano River Union countries and to take into account all the concerns regarding youths.
The session was officially opened by Vice President Sam Sumana who stressed that member states should take holistic approach in addressing youth problem as it is becoming a global concern.
He said in 2003 Sierra Leone reviewed the national youth policy because it is the responsibility of the state to put measures and strategies in place in order to develop the youths, to which he reaffirmed government’s commitment to creating the youth commission so as to empower them.
The occasion was chaired by the Minister of Education Youths and Sport Dr. Minkailu Bah.