© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Zurich – 27. September 2019

Helvetas points out prospects for Africa's young population

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen

In its new discussion paper, the Swiss development organisation Helvetas points out five pre-requisites based on experience gained from local projects that could provide beneficial opportunity areas to the goring young population in sub-Saharan Africa.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the youngest population in the world. Almost half of the population is under the 15 years of age. According to the UN, the population within the countries south of the Sahara might double in the next 30 years. The youth in the working age group can be a driving force for the country's economy and society. Ethiopia, Nigeria and Rwanda are already among the world's fastest-growing economies.

The five prerequisites

In its recently published discussion paper: A new beginning in Africa - Challenges and Prospects for a Young Population, the Swiss NGO - committed to broad-based, sustainable development cooperation - presents its approach to sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. This comprises five fields of action:

  • Education of the young population: A high-quality school system and successes in school enrolment are central, and so is differentiated and employment-effective vocational training, which must continuously adapt to market demand with new knowledge.
  • Stable political conditions: Democratically legitimated governments are needed that commit to the welfare of all and invest in education and health care which is accessible to everyone. This also calls for investments in road and rail infrastructure, the communications network and water supply.
  • Secure and new jobs: Existing sectors, such as agriculture and raw materials, must be modernized and made more sustainable. Innovations in the areas of digitization, tourism and renewable energies will increase employment.
  • Socially and economically empowered women: Education and economic success enable women to lead a more self-determined life. This also enables them to actively tackle their family planning, impacting a lower birth rate in the long term.
  • Combating climate change: Sub-Saharan Africa is hit particularly hard by climate change. People in endangered regions must be protected from the consequences with the appropriate infrastructure.

Providing impetus with successful education projects

Helvetas provides important impetus in all five aspects. In the field of basic and vocational training, for example, the NGO has been successfully involved for decades. It initiated the ‘SKY - Skill and Knowledge for Youth’ project; wherein, by way of compact courses, young Ethiopians learn professions (in theory and practice) that are in demand on the labor market. Local private training centers train the young people to become hairdressers, tailors, carpenters and car mechanics. The training institutes only receive the full fee when the young professionals effectively earn a fixed income.

Launched in 2015, the project works based on the multiplier effect: many trainees later employ young people. And, around 150 state and private vocational schools in Ethiopia have adopted the curricula developed by Helvetas; and a total of over 240,000 young people have already been trained and supported into the labor market. Helvetas is now also applying the project in other African countries.

Starting October, Helvetas will be telling two concrete success stories with a new poster campaign throughout Switzerland.

Symposium: ‘Enterprising Africa’ in Bern on October 1, 2019

Experts from Kenya and South Africa, among others, will discuss how Africa can develop its economic potential. Please join us via the Live-stream or stay tuned to our website for more details.