Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission has partnered with the MasterCard Foundation to conduct a US$11.8 million job creation initiative dubbed Enabling Ethiopia.
The five-year project is meant to serve as one of the country’s implementing tools for Ethiopia’s Plan of Action for Job Creation (PAJC – 2020-2025). The project aims at fostering innovation, policy reform, inclusiveness and advocacy.
The ambitious project looks to create some 14 million jobs by 2025 by creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem, cultivating the necessary human capital, adopting pro-job macro policies, and supporting inclusive innovations; these are just some of the major focus areas of this long-term plan.
The goal is to have a private sector-led economy that is coordinated and supported by the government. The project aims to support the adoption of job-rich macro policies and the implementation of innovative job creation programs.
To achieve this, the initiative acknowledges the need to build capacity of implementing entities as well as to support introduction of labour market information systems and resource optimization tools. As per the PAJC, Enabling Ethiopia will focus on expanding economic opportunities for disadvantaged groups in society. The targeted marginalized groups include street youth, ‘employed but unpaid rural women’, displaced people and people with disabilities.
The Jobs Creation Commissioner, Dr. Ephrem Tekle told media, “…the project will be implemented under the leadership of the Jobs Creation Commission and in collaboration with federal and regional governments, job creation and enterprise development bodies, financing institutions and private sector actors.”
The Commission which operates under the Office of the Prime Minister is charged with aligning skills development with market needs. It works to, among other things, drive job creation through innovation and the facilitation of three million jobs by the end of 2020, 14 million by 2025 and 20 million by 2030.
In his comments, Alemayehu Konde Koira, Country Head, Ethiopia, at MasterCard Foundation noted that, “The project is well aligned with MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works initiative to enable 10 million young women and men to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. Our partnership with the Jobs Creation Commission will support the creation of an environment where young people in Ethiopia can thrive and where their leadership and contributions matter.”
Raising the bar: leading private sector economic development initiatives
The Enabling Ethiopia initiative is very well commendable and deserves all recognition in its noble goal. However, it should not be unique to Ethiopia and certainly it should not be limited to MasterCard.
All across the continent, there are numerous globally renowned brands that represent the world’s leading multibillion dollar companies. These multinational conglomerates all possess huge financial muscles that, if flexed for the good of the public, could lead Africa in its walk out of abject poverty.
Without the private sector’s support, the walk out of poverty will remain snail-paced at best and even stagger down into a crawl if not to an outright standstill and even retardation in some cases. The private sector holds the current cutting edge technology that is needed to spearhead Africa’s transformation.
Look at what the telecoms have achieved in the last decade of mobile money technology. Africa now leads the world in mobile money transfers; granted this does not represent e-commerce in its entirety but that is an opportunity yet to be met.
The government plays a key role in enabling private sector participation in national development by setting up favourable policies that support private sector initiatives.
This is more so in human resource development both through job creation as well as transfer of technology. It should be noted that a more educated public offers a more sophisticated human resource pool that in turn produces more and does so more efficiently.
MasterCard has invested heavily in this job creation initiative. If similar projects are funded by other private sector companies then Ethiopia and the rest of Africa stand to gain.
In Tanzania, Vodacom Foundation has made similar initiatives to support job creation for Tanzanian youth. The Foundation is responsible for creating jobs for numerous Tanzanian youth; it helps women across the country improve their health, access better education and create new enterprises.
In collaboration with local NGOs and partners, Vodacom Foundation has supported over 120 projects to date. It is initiatives such as these that are needed to support national development.
As in many other African countries, youth employment in Tanzania remains one of the key challenges that the government faces. It is vital to have the private sector step in to support government efforts. For example, unemployment rate among Tanzanian youth aged 15 to 34 years for females stands at 14.3 per cent and amongst males it is 12.3 per cent. In fact, in urban areas, youth unemployment rate is over 22.3 per cent.