A draft strategic document entitled “Ethiopian Youth Development Strategy” will be tabled for discussion by the Council of Ministers in the next two weeks. Part of the strategy is the 10 billion Br revolving youth fund that was announced by the President a few weeks ago as one of the package. This will be the first strategy specifically dedicated to addressing issues concerning the youth.
Every ministry has also been mandated to set up a youth affairs division.
Previously, youth initiatives were presented as area and sector specific packages. This strategic document will give existing packages and policies an overarching comprehensive framework. The document, which gives a strategic direction on how to support the youth population has been under discussion for a long time, under the supervision of a committee that comprised the representatives of various ministries. The committee is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen.
“We are expecting the document to be tabled before the Council in two weeks,” says an official from the Deputy Prime Minister’s office.
The document touches upon points on the current status of youth in the country and deals with issues of how to effectively engage the youth in the economy. Even though the youth demographic has been the focus of a number of development packages, the results haven’t been positive and the multifaceted issues that are faced haven’t been addressed, according to the document.
One issue addressed is unemployment, particularly in rural areas, where the limited amount of land has been a stumbling block for economic engagement.
Nearly a quarter (22pc) of the youth population (aged 15-29) were unemployed during 2016. Nearly 20pc of the country’s population is between the ages of 15 and 24.
In urban areas, unemployment has reached 16.9pc, with 9.4pc of men and 24.7pc of women unemployed. Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa top the list of cities with the worst unemployment rates.
To ensure the employment of youth in urban areas, the alternatives found by the committee included linking and involving the youth with a number of ongoing mega projects, such as food safety net programs taking place around the country.
Resettlement and allocation of communal plots are being explored as an option to give rural youths access to farmland.
The draft strategy also deals with the administration of the revolving youth fund. The Commercial Bank of Ethiopia has been mandated to administer the funds. The budget will be included under the annual budgets of all the ministry offices. In addition to preparing the document, the committee also assessed different opportunities for the government to increase youth engagement and identified a number of groups to be targeted by the programs.
“The eligibility for the programs is something that the committee is looking at very thoroughly,” Naseir Legesse, communication director at the Ministry of Youth & Sport told Fortune.
“Once the strategic document is approved everything else will stem from that,” says Naseir.
An integrated system of giving youths different trainings, facilitating loans and creating a market linkages are listed in the document as possible paths to creating new opportunities.