Even in the best of times, unemployment is a major challenge for most African countries. The continent’s relatively robust economic growth over the past two decades has failed to translate into sustained employment gains and poverty reduction (Baah-Boateng, 2016). Adding about 3 million jobs a year will not come close to absorbing the 10-12 million people entering the labor market annually as the workforce grows more rapidly in Africa than in any other region (International Labour Organization, 2016; Yeboah & Jayne, 2016; African Development Bank Group, 2020).
And these are not the best of times: If the COVID-19 pandemic persists, Africa could lose millions of jobs in both the formal and informal sectors (African Union, 2020).
Yet these are the realities facing African leaders and their development partners: According to citizens’ views recorded by Afrobarometer, jobs are consistently their top priority, and they are increasingly dissatisfied with their government’s efforts to create them.