By Ndey Sowe
The European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Gambia Atilla Lajos, said the current forecast on youth employment is not encouraging.
The EU Ambassador made this remark during the launching of the EU funded Grant Scheme under the “Tekki Fii Project” held on Friday September 27th 2019, at the premises of the National Association of Cooperative Credit Unions of the Gambia (NACCUG), in Bakau.
“The Africa Competitiveness Report reveals that Africa will need to create 450 million new jobs by the year 2035, yet current policies are expected to create only 100 million jobs,” he said, adding that youth employment is a pressing priority for African Governments. Attila Lajos said economic development and employment opportunities are the cornerstones for realizing the full vision of the Gambia’s National Development Plan (NDP); that the key objective must be on economic development which benefits young people of the Gambia who make up the vast majority of the population.
“With a growing number of young people entering the labor market and with limited job opportunities for them, unemployment is threatening the sustainable development of the country and could pose a risk to social stability. We need to accelerate our efforts to generate quality jobs for the younger generation,’’ he stated; adding that translating the Gambia’s youth bulge into a demographic dividend requires the following:
a) the need to invest in quality and relevant education and skills development that prepares young Gambians for the job market;
b) the need to create an enabling business environment that facilitates investment and private sector growth;
c) the need to support small businesses in particular, to grow and become more competitive, and
d) the need to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
“When we talk about business development in the Gambia, we need to talk about access to finance. The cost of borrowing money is high and it is hard to access funds. This is true particularly for young entrepreneurs who often lack the collateral to get credit,’’ he said.
He noted that despite good ideas, relevant business knowledge, determination and hard work, many Gambians are not able to start their businesses because of the lack of seed capital.
The ‘Tekki Fii’ or ‘Make it in the Gambia’ project seeks to contribute to socio-economic development and nurture positive prospects for Gambian youth including returnees and or potential migrants, by promoting employment and revenue generation opportunities for them. The implementing partners are GIZ, IMVF, ITC/YEP, Enable and NACCUG. ‘Tekki Fii’ is an initiative of the Government of the Gambia through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in collaboration with different development partners.