While a young population can be a positive economic factor, it can also be a political risk in an economy that doesn’t create enough opportunities.
Growth Precluding Youths Is Specious
According to the book published in 2017 by Office of Government Communication Affairs, numerous packages have been launched based on the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) to benefit the youth in social and economic aspects.
Towards this noble end, in 2016 fiscal year, capacity building training on job creation and entrepreneurship had been offered to 2,742,355 youths in all urban and rural areas of the country.
In urban centres, workshops and retailing spots had been given to 128,186 youths. Moreover, market linkage and other services were also facilitated to make them strong and competitive. On the other hand, 913,584 youths were supported to engage in various agricultural activities. However, these promising achievements are not enough to empower the 70 per cent young demographic base of the nation. That is why in collaboration with other concerned bodies the incumbent is diligently working to address the economic challenges of the youth.
Two-thirds of Ethiopians are youths. This is a great asset to the country. They hold the future of Ethiopia in their hands. They have ideas, ambitions and dreams. Their dreams matter and can transform Ethiopia, and may even change the world. However, a larger segment of members of this age group are unemployed.
The youth are highly vulnerable to a number of socio-economic problems ranging from unemployment to sexual and reproductive health complications. The government has looked into the inherent causes and concluded that youth unemployment proves the major one.
The Ethiopian government has started to show its commitment to address the challenges of the youth. It understood that alleviating the problems of the youth would be a viable mechanism to sustain the double digit economic growth of the country.
Mindful of the aforementioned task, the government has drafted youth development strategic plan. This plan has placed special focus on accountability in addition to the new engagement mechanisms of the youth in urban, rural and pastoral communities.
The youth development strategic plan has an objective of modifying any youth misconceptions and increasing political participation thereby guaranteeing their economic benefits. The plan will enable the youth to integrate with every government plan and programme. Their active involvement for agricultural productivity and mega projects is vital.
Currently, many Ethiopians are engaging in various activities to improve their livelihood and that of their family. The educational curriculum by itself has been designed to promote quality education that enhances science, technology and innovation.
Policies that encourage the expansion of science and technology such as awards for innovative knacks and the 70/30 placement of students have made big difference in inspiring the young generation to involve in science, technology and innovation. It has also ensured capable human power in engineering and medicine, the country has been yearning for many years.
Currently, many youths have improved their livelihoods and created job opportunities for others. However, there are still a greater number of unemployed youths throughout the country. Though they have the necessary skill and feasible business plan that can help them to run their own businesses, they lack starting capital and working land that would actualize their dreams.
In countries like Ethiopia,which aspire to use agriculture as a springboard for economic sector, the role of youth is crucial. Since the majority of the population is the youth, the potential of the agricultural sector can be properly exploited by carefully involving the youth in the course of production.
Involvement of the youth in the government decisions making process and equipping them with skills have a significant contribution for the overall economic progress of the nation.
The participation of youth is also important in the various mega project activities. For instance, the role of youth in the construction of GERD has is significant. It is already witnessed that, using the project as a means, several youths have became beneficiaries from it. Both skilled and unskilled youth have benefited from the project directly or indirectly.
GERD is beyond simply a mega project. It ensures participation of the youth for the nation building process. At the national level, specially the youth are shaping the country’s image taking 94 per cent of the construction works of GERD and in the fight against poverty.
The ongoing mega projects such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), industrial parks, sugar factories and the construction companies have created significant employment opportunities for millions of youths. Not only creating job opportunities, such opportunities have been bolstering scientific researches and innovations. Besides, they are promoting competitiveness and global standards in the employment sector. In this regard, much attention is needed for sustainable development of the youth. This sustainable development should also be supported by moral values that makes the youth to be responsible and responsive for national issues.
Credit: Sosina Bezu for The Conversation Africa.