Sub-Saharan Africa: More jobs, higher incomes

An international initiative is committed to ensuring that the economic upturn benefits local people and businesses.

Sub-Saharan Africa: More jobs, higher incomes

Although many African countries are now enjoying economic growth, few of the benefits are being felt by local people and businesses. An initiative involving national and international partners from the political sphere, the private sector and civil society aims to change all that by helping around 190,000 people in Africa to achieve higher incomes, creating more than 57,800 jobs and improving the business performance of 41,000 companies by the end of 2023.

There is enormous potential in sub-Saharan Africa: the region has a young and growing population and is rich in raw materials and natural resources. Skilled workers are in great demand in the region thanks to investment in the energy and commodities sectors as well as in the required infrastructure. This has created a great opportunity for sustainable economic development. But skilled workers are in short supply in many areas, which means that contracts are often awarded to foreign companies. At the same time, half the population living south of the Sahara are either underemployed or work in the informal sector without fixed contracts and reliable wages.

E4D project partners train young women and men in Sub-Saharan Africa – to become welders for instance.

International partnership with a common objective 

This means that most Africans are yet to benefit from the growing economy, something that the international Employment for Development (E4D) initiative wants to change once and for all. The initiative is a partnership made up of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union and the development agencies of Korea, the United Kingdom and Norway. Also involved are various national ministries, universities, associations and organisations in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. 

The objective is to improve the incomes of at least 100,000 wage earners by over 10 per cent by the end of 2020. The initiative also wants to see more than 30,000 people find a job and 40,000 employees enjoy better working conditions. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working on site to achieve these objectives. On behalf of BMZ and in collaboration with E4D project partners, it is also developing new vocational training programmes. 

Since 2015, E4D has carried out 68 individual measures in seven countries in cooperation with international and African partner companies, mobilising almost 24 million euros in additional private-sector contributions in the process. So far, more than 32,000 people have found news jobs, around a third of them women and nearly half of them young people. Almost 98,700 people have increased their income by at least 10 per cent. Economic conditions have improved for over 28,500 companies.

Not all workplaces are the same: In Uganda the initiative has reduced accident and health risks and introduced international safety standards in 30 companies.

Preparing for the jobs of the future, harnessing the opportunities presented by the green economy

Take an example from Kenya, where youth unemployment is around 19 per cent: with financial support from BMZ and the European Union, GIZ has worked with enterprises and vocational training centres to develop further training programmes for jobs that are in particular demand by industry. Since early 2017, young men and women in the coastal region have received training to become welders, carpenters, painters and decorators, electricians, restaurateurs and hoteliers. Nearly 2,700 young Kenyans have now either found a permanent job or successfully become self-employed thanks to E4D. In addition, more than 3,300 of those who took part in training courses have been able to increase their income by at least 10 per cent.

In order to create prospects for people in Africa over the long term, the private sector has been brought on board: over 70 international companies and local enterprises are involved in public-private partnerships, working groups and initiatives. Their support helps local suppliers to become more competitive and improve workflows, among other things. 

In return, the companies create jobs and training places and play an active role in enhancing and expanding vocational education and training. New jobs are being created primarily in the commodities, construction and agricultural sectors and the green economy – particularly in the areas of water, waste management, energy, tourism, agriculture and forestry.

Better working conditions: spotlight on health

Not all workplaces are the same, however. Workers are often required to labour under difficult and sometimes inhumane conditions. For this reason, the BMZ programme and its partners also aim to improve working conditions. In Uganda, for example, GIZ has advised companies on health, safety and environmental protection. Accident and health risks have been systematically reduced, and international safety standards introduced for the benefit of around 5,400 staff. The new standards also mean that companies can participate in international tenders, for example in the commodities and construction sectors. 

These and many other activities implemented by E4D help safeguard existing jobs and create new ones. And it is not just the employees who benefit, but also their families: to date, the initiative has improved the prospects of around 472,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Last updated: January 2021

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