Unemployment in Africa: no jobs for 50% of graduates

Almost half of the 10 million graduates churned out of the over 668 universities in Africa yearly do not get job, Kelvin Balogun – President of Coca-Cola, Central, East and West Africa – has said.

Speaking at this year’s Africa Transformation Forum in Kigali, he said it is time the private sector works with governments to bring this canker to an end, saying: “We need to build our human capital to bring about the development of Africa.

“Unemployment is a general problem in Africa and there must be a partnership between governments and the private sector to address it.

“At Coca-Cola we realised that most of the labour is not very competent, but we pick them and retrain them,” he said

Mr. Balogun urged corporate bodies to employ and retrain graduates to fit their job standards, so as to reduce growing unemployment on the continent.

He said like other corporate bodies, Coca Cola has a role to play as the company employs about 70,000 Africans and has programmes to train and recruit interns every year.

Experts have argued that youth unemployment and underemployment are among the main barriers to development in West Africa.

They said not only does the exclusion of young people from the labour force perpetuate generational cycles of poverty, it also breaks down social cohesion and can be associated with higher levels of crime and violence among idle youth.

According to data from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in sub-Saharan Africa, the youth unemployment rate hovers around 12 percent. While this is slightly lower than the global youth unemployment rate of 12.4 percent, the African region has the world’s highest rate of working poverty — people who are employed but earning less than US$2 a day.

Despite being Africa’s most educated generation to emerge from schools and universities, a youth in Africa is twice as likely to be unemployed when he/she becomes an adult, ILO said.

Africa has the largest “youth bulge” in the world, and the number of youth is expected to grow by 42.5 million between 2010 and 2020, says the World Bank.

Read more at B&FT Online


  1. Avatar koumeda angoni pierre paul says:

    Am very happy of the document, we must reduce unemployment in Africa

  2. Avatar Isaac Aiyelaagbe says:

    Mr. Balogun’s remarks are right on the mark. Training Curricular in Tertiary Institutions need to be reconfigured to meet the current challenges/demands of the job market. National governments in Africa must invest more in qualitative education. Our youth need to be less lethargic, better self motivated and be passionate about excellence

  3. Avatar Kavuma henry says:

    Strong points from Mr. Balogun
    Most of particularly ugandan universities arr based on theory rather than the practical skills.
    I therefore think the education system should be the first to implement

  4. Avatar Samoa Drame says:

    Unemployment is bad for student who graduate.

  5. Avatar Oguine Ifeanacho Odinakachukwu says:

    The bane of this alarming unemployment in Africa rest square on our government ruling us in Africa. The massive looting of national treasury by those who are supposed to guard it is a problem that need to be checked. My question now is who will guard this treasury? Government need to set up a functional or effective body for this and appoint people of impeccable character to lead this organization. This will ensure that government have enough money to provide the social needs of her citizens.

  6. Avatar Ndzesop Abas says:

    It’s paradoxal that most African states preach “Free Education” but these are never accompanied by corresponding fight against unemployement, which to my views constitutes a major threat to security and stability on the continent. Unemployment harmpers developement, in that it constitudes under exploitation of our human resources. Unaccountabity and the establishment “Godfatherism” as modus operandi in the employement market are some of the generators of unemployment in our societies today.

  7. Avatar Queman Jones says:

    Mr. Balogun made a very important point, but Head of states in Africa need to empower local farmers with adequate tools and seeds to grow more food and also encourage more internship at various ministries and agencies. On the other hand private institutions should also help by employing more youths.

  8. Avatar Oscar Seka says:

    Youth facing unemployment beg for nothing more than jobs’ opportunities, financial loans and aid to launch their own ventures for self-employment. Let’s think about strategies to make them available at national, regional and continental levels.

  9. Avatar ukachi nnabuike says:

    I need a job seriously! I studied Agric engineering! learnt plumbing and the jobs are very scarce! I need plumbing leads to enable me raise cash for my farm! Any plumbing lead info should email me golason4u@yahoo.co.UK or +2347033410625

  10. Avatar Thamsanqa Maqubela says:

    What’s the response on this call to Efrain African graduates through workplace training? http://www.sacgc.co.za SACGC is one of the notable councils in south Africa that prepares graduates for the world of work.

  11. Avatar Thamsanqa Maqubela says:

    http://www.sacgc.co.za SACGC is one of the notable councils in south Africa that prepares graduates for the world of work.

  12. Avatar ijay says:

    If only our government will see education as priority,and view skills development as source of growth in economy ,and our universities forget the Eurocentric curriculum and embrace a more comfortable Afrocentric curriculum,employment will no longer be a serious topic of discourse.
    We have government that are zero sensitive to indices for human and environmental upgrade.We have individuals who are so egocentric in administration.

  13. Avatar Raban Ninzi says:

    It’s a great problem the leaders in must look for it deeply

  14. Avatar Christopher Katenga. says:

    that is why i run an NGO. Gone are the days when jobs were easy to be found and even companies were running up and down in colleges and universities seeking for the best team to hire, and those days are gone things have change due to various factors involved. Forming this organization we thought of making a wakeup call to our fellow graduates and students to accept the change and the defeat due to stiff competition which is in labor market, by accepting this change it simply mean we need to have plan b, c etc. We need to have different choices before we graduate and the first option is to be entrepreneurs and seeking for jobs should always be the second option and that’s the main reason we have decided to register this organization to campaign in secondary schools and universities for this initiative change. We have the potential to create businesses and I have already tested the waters through the business literacy forum which I created 2014 till date in social media and the responds has been positive, because more business has been created through this initiative and this have encouraged me to take a step further and do a lot more with hope that things will turn for a better Malawi.

    • John Osei John Osei says:

      Dear Christopher,
      Your initiative to whip up interest in entrepreneurship is very encouraging. Our reports present very practical solutions that can easily be transformed into businesses for the youth.

  15. Avatar segni merga says:


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