Africa has the youngest population in the world, many if whom are unable to find the employment they need to prosper.
Thus the reason many youth have been seeking a solution to their problems by emigrating, maintains one of the papers, titled ‘Youth empowerment and the eradication of poverty in Namibia’, presented to the Ministry of International Relations and Co-operation foreign policy review in July.
Namibia, with a youth unemployment rate of 39.2 percent, is no exception. In this regard the paper suggests that entrepreneurship is part of the solution to the problem and highlights the need to create platforms through which the youth can advance their lives by offering them the requisite resources to grow their businesses.
“It is essentially necessary to support young people in making or turning their dreams into a reality. This, however, has to come from the young people and the government with its agencies by providing support in means of resources and guidance,” reads the paper by Meryam Nghidipo, a trustee of the Pan-African Institute for the Study of African Society.
This approach, she maintained, would provide and unleash hidden potential in the youth with many business ideas generated and employment opportunities arising, thus contributing to a decline in poverty because the unemployed will get jobs and be able to sustain their lives with their new incomes.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) situation analysis indicates that 36.8 percent of the Namibian population is in the 15-34 year age bracket, suggesting Namibia has ‘a youth bulge’.
Given the youth unemployment rate of 39.2 percent in relation to the national unemployment rate of 28.1, government intends to develop and harness this untapped human potential to contribute towards employment creation and Small and Medium Enterprise-driven economic growth path propelled by the youth.
HHP, Nghidipo, maintained, recognises that young Namibians are anxious to work in the formal economy. “Failure to obtain that goal has implications for social stability. HPP is particularly concerned with the youth and young women,” reads the paper forecasting the potential and hoped-for outcomes with regard to youth enterprise development during the Harambee period.
These would include improving small business access to finance from the current 22 percent to 50 percent by 2020; introducing new financial instruments aimed at resolving the need to produce collateral; establishing an SME Development Agency with countrywide representation by 2020; and establishing 121 youth owned rural enterprises, each permanently employing a minimum of five to ten youth by 2020.
The formulation of a National Youth Enterprise Policy is also envisaged before the end the year to co-ordinate and align the essential levers for the entrepreneurial ecosystem, including access to funding, markets and integration into global and local supply chains and incubation and mentorship, business development services and skills and training and development.
The Youth Enterprise Development Fund will be reviewed to consolidate it into a single ring-fenced Enterprise Development Fund, exclusively for the youth. Government will further ensure that this fund is adequately resourced to ensure maximum impact with respect to youth enterprise development, according to Meryam Nghidipo’s research paper.