Washington — The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved new financing today that will equip thousands of vulnerable young people living in urban areas in the Republic of Congo with the right skills to get better-paying jobs and to become more efficient entrepreneurs.
The new US$10 million IDA* credit is for the Congo Skills Development for Employability Project, which will offer skills training and apprenticeships to youth in Brazzaville, Pointe Noire, and surrounding areas. Together with the government's own investment, the total financing for the project is US$32 million.
The 15,000 young men and women covered by the project include unemployed youth aged 17-30 who have finished primary school, micro-entrepreneurs, and adolescents with incomplete secondary education.
"Our aim is to reach vulnerable young people working in the informal sector, which still employs the vast majority of working adults in the country," said Eustache Ouayoro, World Bank Country Director for the Republic of Congo. "While efforts to increase formal employment continue, youth in the informal sector urgently need support to improve their basic and vocational skills, and to gain work experience."
Under the new project, training will be delivered partly through performance-based contracts with training institutions and selected non-governmental organizations in Pointe Noire and Brazzaville, as well as by scaling up an existing apprenticeship program already supported by the World Bank.
In addition, the project will help the country to improve and upgrade its technical and vocational education and training system and align it better with the needs of the market in the years ahead.
"By covering an equal number of young men and women and offering them skills training opportunities, the project is also helping to narrow the gender gap in the country's labor market," added Cristina Santos, World Bank Task Team Leader for the project.
An evaluation of a similar project in Liberia, which focused on adolescent girls and young women, found that girls trained in vocational and business skills increased their average earning significantly. The new Congo project will also be evaluated rigorously.
The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world's poorest countries by providing loans (called "credits") and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people's lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world's 82 poorest countries, 40 of which are in Africa.
Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.