Accelerating private sector action to create jobs in key sectors to promote business growth and absorb the millions of African young people entering the workforce in Africa topped the agenda of the Initiative for Global Development’s Frontier 100 Forum, held in Durban, South Africa.
Some 100 African and global corporate leaders convened for the invitation-only Frontier 100 Forum, which offered insight and business-driven solutions on delivering jobs through investments in Post-Harvest Loss reduction, innovations in skills development, unlocking regional growth, and industrialization.
“African companies create more than 80 percent of the jobs in Africa,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President & CEO. “Our Frontier 100 Forum brings the voice of Africa’s private sector to the forefront on how to drive job creation to tackle the youth bulge and boost inclusive growth.”
Alarming statistics from the African Development Bank reveals that some 10 to 12 million young people are entering the labor market across Africa each year, yet only 3 million formal jobs are created annually.
Economic activity in emerging markets and developing economies is expected to pick up pace in 2017 and 2018, after a lackluster performance in 2016, projected KPMG, an IGD Frontier Leader.
Rene Awambeng, Director of Client Relations of African Export-Import Bank delivered a keynote address on the forum theme, “Driving Sustainable Economies: Private Sector Action to Spur Job Creation and Innovation for Inclusive Growth in Africa”, where he spoke about long-term sustainable economic transformation in Africa.
“Job strategies should focus on those sectors that are most promising job creators, taking an end to end approach that removes the many barriers to growth along specific industry value chains and puts in place the infrastructure, financing, business environment, and workforce skills needed for the target industry to survive,” said Awambeng.
Panelists on the session, Unlocking the Door for Agribusiness Job Growth and Entrepreneurship through Investment in Post-Harvest Loss Reduction, explored how to generate jobs by making agriculture a first career choice for youth, instead of a backup plan.
The panel also put forth strategies on boosting investments in Post-Harvest Loss reductions to create new jobs and entrepreneur opportunities.
Agricultural transformation can drive economic transformation in Africa, according to an upcoming report by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET). The preliminary report stated that many African governments are prioritizing the agriculture sector in economic planning.
To build a globally competitive workforce, the private sector needs to inform university curricula about the skills necessary for today’s jobs as well as provide apprenticeship opportunities, said Matt Essieh, President & CEO of EAI Information Systems on the Igniting Innovations in Skills Development for Job Creation panel.
Lutz Ziob, Dean of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Skills Academy sounded the alarm on the Fostering Innovation and Job Creation through Digital Transformation in Africa panel that the real disruption is coming in the African workforce when 30-60% of existing jobs will be automated or dramatically transformed.
The Delivering Jobs through Regional Growth session drew attention to the fact that the success and sustainability of global business is linked to Africa; therefore, it is critical for companies to expand intra-Africa trade. “For any multinational, your biggest risk is not being in Africa,” said Emad Bibawi, New York Advisory Office Leader & US/Africa Corridor Leader at KPMG.
Larry Riddle, Director of Group Corporate and External Affairs at Illovo Sugar Limited emphasized: “We need to create and develop African products for African markets.”
Forum sessions also explored the present and future of industrialization in Africa, especially in moving from exporting commodities to the production of goods.
“Why do industries fail in Africa?” questioned Abdu Mukhtar, Group Chief Strategy Officer at the Dangote Industries Limited on the Powering Industrialization to Drive Job Growth session. “It’s the lack of power and governments’ inconsistency in business decisions.”
Lead organizational partners featured the Rockefeller Foundation for the panel session on agriculture investments in PHL, KPMG on the regional growth session, and African Technology Foundation on the digital transformation session.
African and global corporate leaders from the IGD Frontier Leader Network agreed on the urgency in fueling job creation and skills development. Session outcomes included a call for greater advocacy with governments in creating an enabling business environment, boosting energy access, strengthening markets in growth sectors like agriculture, and encouraging youth economic participation.
A special breakfast discussion with officials from the Millennium Challenge Corporation outlined how the MCC determines country eligibility and assesses policy performance on its scorecard. In rapid-fire presentations with Africa Today TV anchor Carol Pineau, U.S. and African private sector leaders discussed improving country scorecard performance and highlighted “investment readiness” of MCC eligible countries.
An evening reception on May 6 kicked off the IGD Africa Investment Rising campaign’s “Making Farming Cool!” podcast series, in partnership with Afropop Worldwide, to inspire African youth to explore careers in the agriculture sector.
A luncheon sponsored by FairPlay Movement highlighted how illegal dumping of poultry products in South Africa has cut jobs in the industry, and outlined solutions to promote trade competitiveness.
The African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank (Afeximbank) were Collaborating Partners and forum sponsors included Dangote Group, Illovo Sugar Group, KPMG, Orrick, Chevron, and Contour Global as Platinum sponsors; UPL, Endeavor Energy and Fair Play Movement as Gold sponsors; and Hollard Business Insurer and EAI Information Systems as Silver sponsors.