CFTA can play a role in reducing unemployment of youth and women - Vera Songwe

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Rabat, 4 October 2017 (ECA) – The 32nd Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE), opened in Rabat this week on the theme, “Youth employment and sustainable development”. Organized by the ECA Office in North Africa, the meeting attracted regional member states and high-level representatives, including the Arab Maghreb Union Secretary-General, Taïeb Baccouche, the Moroccan Minister of Employment and Professional Integration, Mohamed Yatim and the ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe.

The meeting aims to carry out a detailed analysis of youth employment and sustainable development issues in North Africa; examine actions taken by governments and other actors to ensure employment policies lead to concrete results; and exchange lessons learned and good practices to promote and empower young men and women. Recommendations made at this meeting will be submitted to the Joint Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, in 2018.

“North Africa’s growth rate is currently below the level required to absorb youth entering the job market every year. In order to speed up growth, it is vital that obstacles be lifted and a development-friendly environment be created so as to encourage private initiatives and facilitate the building of skills that respond to the needs of the job market,” said Lillia Hachem Naas, Director of the ECA Office for North Africa at a gathering of experts organised in the margins of the ICE meeting. 

“To reach this objective, all actors should be involved and committed at different levels, including the political, private, civil society levels, and especially the youth and youth associations,” she added. 

Against this backdrop, Ms. Hachem Naas noted that the ECA, through its work with member states, seeks practical solutions for North Africa, including speeding up regional integration to attract more investors into the region.

For his part, Taïeb Baccouche noted,“Regional integration in the Maghreb will generate a market of more than 100 million consumers, which will boost the economies of North Africa and generate more productive investments and therefore more jobs.”

Given the strong similarities in the difficulties faced by youth from the Maghreb region, the meeting learnt that the Regional Economic Community - UMA - is working on a strategy to fight youth unemployment.

ECA’s Executive Secretary, Songwe, underlined the importance of regional integration for generating jobs, noting that with an even larger market in Africa, “the Continental Free Trade Area will play a key role in reducing unemployment, especially for the more than 25% of youth and women who are unemployed in North Africa”. 

“In order to reduce unemployment and speed up industrialization, North Africa must meet the challenge and have more of its countries at the top of the Doing Business index”, she added. 

Moroccan Minister of Employment and Professional Integration, Mohammed Yatim expressed his satisfaction with the event agenda, indicating that it promised fruitful debates on economic trends, employment and sustainable development, as well as issues related to youth and access to jobs.

“Employment plays a major role in social integration and political stability on both the national and international level”, said Yatim.

Over 150 high-level officials, representatives from international organizations and private sector, experts and academics from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia are in attendance.

فيرا سونغوي: بإمكان المنطقة القارية للتجارة الحرة (ZLEC) أن تساهم في تقليص البطالة في صفوف الشباب والنساء

Note to editors

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is one of the five regional commissions of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ECA’s office in North Africa supports the sub-region’s development by helping its countries (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and Sudan) formulate and apply policies and programs to achieve economic and social transformation. 

For more information about this event, please visit: https://www.uneca.org/events or send an email to: filali-ansary@un.org or cea.an.coms@gmail.com