The high number of unemployed youth are likely to turn into a big problem if Africa doesn’t help in changing their mindset.
The African youth are ignorant about vast opportunities available in the agriculture sector.
Statistics indicate that 60% of unemployed Africans are youths, with the continent’s young population growing at a rate of 29% today, up from 9% in 1950.
“Africa is living on a time bomb with this highest number of unemployed youths,” said Prof. Henry Bwisa from Kenya-based Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology and chairman of African Agribusiness Incubators Network.
While Agriculture is the way to go for youth employment, Prof. Bwisa told KT Press that people still have a bad perspective of it.
“When students in African schools make mistakes, they are punished by sending them to school garden to dig or slash. This kills the image of Agriculture among you Africans,” he said.
At the ongoing ‘Youth Engagement in Agribusiness, Trade and Investment in Africa’ session at the Africa Agriculture Science Week and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa’s general assembly, participants pushed for access to incubation centers by youths to improve their business ideas.
But Prof. Bwiza says most problems the youth face include; lack of information on market, poor value chain financing and inadequate training and skills in as far as Agribusiness is concerned.
For Rwanda, unemployment is at 3.4% and the country targets to create 200,000 new off- farm jobs every year, mostly investing in Agriculture and Small and Medium Enterprises technologies.
Rwanda has incubation centres to provide skills to youth to engage in agribusiness and other small and medium businesses.
The centres have already had a great impact, with fresh entrepreneurs engaging in different business ventures.
Anastase Rwabizankwaya-a model farmer in Kirehe district started growing bananas on 3 hectares of land.
Through trainings from incubation centres, he now makes biscuits, banana juice and produces sanitary pads from banana fibres through partnership with a local factory in his area.
“This has increased my seasonal production from merely Rwf400, 000 to over Rwf2 million,” he said, over 50 youths are employed in his business.
Dr. Chiji Ojukwu, Director of Agriculture and Agro-Industry department at the African Development Bank, says such innovations in agribusiness should be highly funded in order to cut down unemployment among youth on the continent.
“By 2030, 1 in 4 youths in the World will be African. This is a concern and by 2025, Africans living under the poverty line will reach 550 million if there is nothing done now,” said Dr. Chiji.
Meanwhile, Rwanda believes SMEs play a big role in the country’s economic development, they create jobs.
Through support from the Indian government, Rwanda established an incubation centre with 150 students in eleven technologies.
The incubation center trains youth in skills including; baking, tomato ketchup and fruit juice making, edible oil extraction, packaging, soy milk extraction, automatic wire nail manufacturing, paper napkin manufacturing.
Other skills include toilet roll making, knitting, stitching and embroidery, cell phone preparing, potato chips manufacturing, popcorn making, ice cream cone making, air conditioners and refrigeration, fashion designing, among others.