The continent currently has the largest youth population in Africa’s history. It is home to more than 600 million young people under the age of 25. However, the majority of youth (77 percent) are unemployed or underemployed.
In addition, the continent has around 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, roughly 60 percent of the global total. Most of Africa’s people rely on agriculture for a source of income and livelihood, but the majority are smallholder farmers who need most of what they produce to feed themselves and their families. Agricultural productivity remains low and average crop yields have not increased for decades.
Modernizing the agricultural sector in Africa is important, not only for economic growth and food security, but also for job growth. The agricultural sector is expected to create high numbers of entry-level jobs for youth in the coming years. But young people have unique needs and face several barriers in finding secure employment in the sector. They often lack access to appropriate skills training, information (such as market and pricing information), inputs (such as seeds, fertilizer and water), technologies (such as irrigation methods, planting methods and mobile technology), land and financial services.
This is why The MasterCard Foundation is hosting our inaugural Young Africa Works Summit focused on finding practical solutions for youth employment and entrepreneurship within the agricultural sector. On October 29-30, we are bringing together approximately 300 key influencers, including youth and representatives from government, development organizations and the private sector to share perspectives and insights on effective approaches for creating economic opportunities for young men and women in agriculture.
The Summit will illustrate that agriculture is an economic activity in which young people can earn a sustainable livelihood rather than just a subsistence income. Enhancing the productivity of agriculture through improved inputs, livestock vaccinations, the use of processing or refrigeration technology and access to market pricing information is also important for increased income generation.
We want to drive collaboration and thinking across all sectors to inform employment programs and policies that better serve young people in Africa.
We encourage you to join the conversation by following us on Twitter and using the #yaw2015 hashtag.
It is important also that we bring youth voices to the forefront. Follow #youthvoice along with #yaw2015 and stay tuned for dynamic voices of African youth who are working in agriculture and attending the Summit here.