The African Development Bank (AfDB) hosted a high-level seminar to discuss youth employment, focusing on the challenges and opportunities faced by countries in the Southern Africa Region.
The meeting was held in Lusaka, Zambia, and attracted ministers from Zambia, Angola, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Mauritius, as well as senior officials from the continental bank, including its vice president, Prof. Mthuli Ncube, according to a statement.
Addressing the delegates, Zambian Minister of Finance, Alexander Chikwanda is quoted as saying; "Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb for all of us...we need to create a healthy workforce with the right skills to meet the challenges of a modern economy, this can be achieved by encouraging productivity and entrepreneurship."
With almost 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world and by 2030; nearly one in four young people will be African.
This, according to the statement, presents Africa with an enormous opportunity, which in turn also presents a significant risk to the social cohesion and political stability, should Africa and its governments fail to create sufficient economic and employment opportunities to support decent living conditions for its youth.
The African Economic Outlook 2012 released recently indicates that creating productive employment for Africa's rapidly growing young population is an immense challenge, but also the key to future prosperity.
According to the report, in Rwanda, factors that mainly cause youth unemployment include skills mismatch with an average skills deficit of 40 per cent, as well as limited job growth and expansion.
"A mismatch of skills, and limited job growth and expansion are major causes of youth unemployment; as a result, over 42 per cent of young people are either unemployed or underemployed in subsistence agriculture," it said.
The Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, told The New Times recently that the mismatch was due to inability by some universities and other institutions of higher learning to create relevant courses that produce employable graduates.