How to create 650 million jobs

Windhoek – According to the United Nations, an estimated 73 million young people will join the ranks of the unemployed this year.

With such staggering figures, governments and societies should indeed be worried what will become of all of these idle but very energetic and often innovative young people.
So on one hand we get the narrative of “Africa rising” and on the other we have to contend with rising unemployment and the attendant poverty.
Many options are being considered to bring about job creation of which most seem not to be materialising at their expected rate.
Many of these newly unemployed people are among the 650 million African youths who are presently using mobile phones for social and functional purposes. This figure of mobile phone users surpasses the number of users in the United States or Europe.
As such, do we not have an ideal platform for creating the perfect environment for job creation and great potential for more businesses?
With so many mobile phones on the continent – which are in fact more than the the number of unemployed youths we have – surely such potential can be exploited.
It has become a common trend that individual companies go to great lengths to get as much information as they can from youths, particularly for the purposes of advertising and marketing.
Companies invest their time, money and energy on the activities carried out by individuals on social networks just so that they can get a glimpse into the minds of potential market segments.
The companies study these trends so that they can try and map the way people think, behave and then assess how best they can enter new markets and thus grow their businesses.
For example, Forbes magazine puts requests to access users’ activities, posts and friends on their Facebook accounts, particularly when they are using mobile phones.
As mentioned earlier, there are more than 650 million African youths with mobile phones and most of them use these mobile networks for communicating, Internet access and social networking.
If governments are really serious about creating employment, effort should be put into into conducting similar research in order to establish conditions for employment.
Michael Hastings, global head of corporate citizenship and diversity at KPMG, was recently quoted saying: “Most African governments are not in a position to create enough jobs for the youth and therefore need to provide an environment that enable young Africans to set up businesses.”<br /> Governments and the private sector must start using the internet access that youths possess to tap into their entrepreneurial ideas.
These ideas can then be studied further and invested in so that they become realities. Small businesses can easily be established to employ a few or a dozen youths through simple use of social network trend mapping.
Such mapping will also allow governments and the private sector learn new ways that they can do their business in a way that creates employment as they will be interacting with the unemployed and seeing how best they can exploit all this energy that is presently lying idle in our youths.
The idea is that the energies and time of many of the unemployed will be shifted from looking for jobs, to creating jobs. Similarly, the time and energy of governments will be more on investing in innovation and supporting young entrepreneurs rather than trying to fit them into the already inadequate existing work space.
It is young people who are creating the many exciting social media applications that millions of people are engrossed with. These should be invested in so that they create real employment and benefit our countries more fully than they are presently doing.
Realising the potential in the use of 650 million mobile phones in Africa, governments must surely be concerning themselves with tapping into this potential huge marketplace of ideas and innovation.
This can be done in tandem with radio networks.
Cellphones that access the Internet more often than not can access radio services and as such the spirit of breeding entrepreneurship should not neglect this vital and prevalent medium.
Radio is one of the easiest media to access and linking this with community broadcasting can reap huge rewards for African countries.
In combining with local phone companies and other relevant stakeholders to exploit the use of mobile phones, governments and the private sector can achieve quite a lot in creating conditions for job creation by the youths for themselves.

July 2013
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