African states partner to assist jobless youth
By Jemal Omar in Nouakchott for Magharebia – 07/06/2013
Morocco, Tunisia, Niger, Senegal and Mauritania are working together to help unemployed young people in French-speaking countries gain the skills to create their own enterprises.
To get the Youth Integration Fund initiative off the ground, the Conference of Sport and Youth Ministers of Francophone Countries (CONFEJES) organised a week-long training workshop in Nouakchott for the national envoys.
“We seek to help member states create job opportunities for young people and integrate them in active life,” the fund’s Mauritania co-ordinator, Ahmed Ould Beibeni, said on Friday (June 7th).
The people targeted by the training project are between 16 and 30 years old, the most vulnerable period in life in terms of susceptibility to influences, he said.
“Member states are trying as much as they can to protect youths against extremism, deviation and involvement in criminal acts, and therefore, financing focuses on youths in densely-populated cities and poor rural areas,” Ould Beibani said.
“We have about 10 projects from each country going on in various fields, from agriculture to traditional industry,” he added.
The representative of the Moroccan Ministry of Youth and Sports said the workshops would help young people in Morocco understand “entrepreneur culture and know the mechanisms for setting up projects to get out of their current economic situation”.
“This is in addition to sharing the experiences of youths from other countries in northern and western Africa,” Rachid Bin Tibi added.
He talked about the causes of Moroccan youth deviation, which he identified as “unemployment, illiteracy, lack of training, and systematic exclusion”.
“We want to avoid such things so youths can obtain the personal and professional life skills, feel their importance as human beings, and realise that they are part of the solution to problems, rather than a source,” he said.
In Tunisia, “the unemployment rate is now 15% while the growth rate is 4%, a rate that can’t absorb unemployed people”, said Faouzi Boudhla of Tunisia’s Ministry of Youths and Sports.
“Another concern for Tunisian young people is that most victims of unemployment are illiterate; something that makes them prone to extremism,” he added. The Tunisian official said this week’s Nouakchott meeting helped national co-ordinators develop their knowledge.
“Its results will be circulated around Tunisia to stimulate youths to present labour-intensive projects so we can relatively reduce unemployment,” he added.
According to Hajji Abdallah Lam, national co-ordinator for youth integration in Senegal, the training will be especially effective because it targets unemployed people “whose circumstances didn’t allow them to receive university degrees”.
“This will help alleviate the burden for governments, because they usually absorb university degree holders,” Lam said. “Opportunities must be created for shepherds, farmers and others.”
Creating and encouraging small enterprises will actually help distance youths from extremism and terrorist groups, he added.