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African countries commit to roadmap to shape the future of work on the continent

Dec 18, 2019, 1:00 PM

Representatives from 49 African countries have issued a call for a human-centred approach to the future of work, to unleash Africa’s potential for inclusive growth and create a future of work with social justice.

The Abidjan Declaration, entitled Advancing Social Justice: Shaping the future of work in Africa, was issued by delegates representing governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, attending the 14th African Regional Meeting (AFRM) of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The meeting was the culmination of the ILO’s Centenary celebrations in 2019, which also marked 60 years of the organization’s presence in Africa.

The Declaration builds on the approach outlined in the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work, adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2019.

It recognizes that improvements have been made since the Addis Ababa Declaration adopted at the 13th African Regional Meeting in 2015 in terms of economic growth, poverty reduction, wages and education, and that “with [Africa’s] largely young and energetic population...its abundance of natural resources, potential for further growth is promising.” However, it also recognizes that “transformative processes need to be accelerated,” and serious concerns remain in areas including inequality, unemployment and under-employment, youth employment, child and forced labour, migration, social protection and climate change.

The Declaration calls for the shaping of an African Decent Work Agenda, with a focus on five core priorities:

•           Making decent work a reality for Africa’s youth, developing skills, technological pathways and productivity for a brighter future in Africa, transforming the informal and rural economy for decent work, respecting international labour standards, promoting social dialogue and gender equality.

•           Strengthening the capacities of all people to benefit from the opportunities of a changing world of work.

•           Strengthening the efficiency of the institutions of work to ensure adequate protection of all workers.

•           Promoting inclusive and sustainable economic development and growth, full and productive freely chosen employment and decent work for all.

•           Strengthening synergies between the ILO and institutions in Africa.

The Declaration calls for investment in education and training, tackling gender inequality and discrimination, ensuring rights for youth, extending social protection, supporting the private sector, in creating economic growth and jobs, promoting productivity and technological pathways for decent work, as well as entrepreneurship and social dialogue (including cross-border), among others.

A Guest Editorial