Kartik Akileswaran, Antoine Huss, Dan Hymowitz, Jonathan Said

Africa faces a daunting challenge. If current trends continue, the continent will face a shortfall of 50 million jobs by 2040. This would have serious implications: for the continent and its people, for the prosperity and stability of dozens of countries, and even for the global economy and security. Our latest paper, The Jobs Gap: Making Inclusive Growth Work in Africa, explains what needs to be done to avoid this.

The paper argues that the enabling environment approach favoured by many developing-countries and international organisations will not be enough to bridge the widening jobs gap. These interventions need to be complemented by politically smart market-based sector development in order to succeed. This will not be easy. It will require focus and perseverance from governments and their partners over many years.

The Jobs Gap draws on our work in ten African countries over the past decade advising governments on how to make market-based sector development work in practice. The paper also provides four essential elements and a roadmap for governments and their international partners seeking to foster inclusive growth and create the jobs needed by Africa’s growing population.

These are:

  1. Get the politics and economics right, simultaneously: Balance short and long-term political considerations and align political and economic incentives within key sectors. The Government of Rwanda’s collaboration with C&H Garments, which started exporting shortly after its creation and is also playing a catalytic role in the country’s nascent domestic textile industry, is one such example.
  2. Understand and develop a strategic approach to fix the market system: Treat targeted sectors as distinct market systems, diagnose root problems and design pragmatic interventions with in-built learning mechanisms. One good example is the Ethiopian Investment Commission’s work, supported by TBIGC, to develop the strategy for the country’s pharmaceutical sector.
  3. Establish a coordination mechanism in government: Set up a mechanism to coordinate between government institutions, the private sector, development partners and other political entities. This body, such as Liberia’s Presidential Task Force on Agriculture and Manufacturing, should have the political authority to bring together disparate ministries and agencies.
  4. Create a delivery team that is fit for purpose: Establish a dedicated team that supports the coordination mechanism to manage processes such as gathering feedback from the private sector, aligning projects to the strategy, monitoring progress and capturing learning – a role played by Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency.

Read the full report now