Co-operatives could be part of the solution to high unemployment rate in Africa, said ICA Africa’s Director General, Chiyoge Sifa, at the General Assembly in Cape Town.
Dr Sifa, who has been teaching students co-operative values when lecturing on a Policy Management course at the African Nazarene University in Kenya, believes young people are crucial to growing the movement.
They are not only the movement’s future, but also its present, argued Chiyoge Sifa. She thanked the ICA for enabling the youth to be involved at the highest level of the Alliance through the Youth Network.
Young people represent over 65 per cent of the population in Africa. With 200m young people, Africa has the youngest population in the world. However, poverty levels among the youth are very high. Figures published by the International Labour Organization show that over 60 per cent of Africa’s young people are unemployed.
“We are hoping that co-operatives could be drivers of full employment in Africa. The co-operative business opens up opportunities for employment for young people in al sub sectors of economy”, said Dr Sifa.
She gave the example of Kenya, where ICA Africa developed a joint project with the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), helping to grow agricultural co-operatives. ICA Africa is looking at initiating similar projects across the continent. To address youth unemployment and extreme poverty, ICA Africa is launching a new co-operative development strategy. Like the Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade, the new development strategy is focused on 5 pillars: participation, identity, sustainability, capital and legal framework.
While seeking to create its network of young co-operators, ICA Africa is also working with other ICA regional organisations that have an active youth network. They will be including a young person in their regional board. Young members should try to get as actively involved as possible, said Chiyoge Sifa, and not expect to be appointed without proving their commitment to co-operative values and principles. She encouraged co-operators from across the world to help “build a continent that gives hope to the youth of Africa.”