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AU prepares for Ougaplus10 extra-ordinary summit on ‘Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Development’

Jul 25, 2014, 9:49 AM

In September 2014, heads of state and government of the African Union will meet at an extra-ordinary session in Burkina Faso, to find ways to accelerate job creation on the continent, in particular for youth and women.

Their meeting will take place ten years after 2004 Ouagadougou summit, which came up with the Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan of Action on Employment and Poverty Alleviation.

That historic summit highlighted the need to place employment at the center of all national plans for social and economic development of Africa. The heads of state and government agreed to take action to reverse the trends of pervasive poverty, unemployment and under employment and to bring material improvement to the lives of the African people.

Ten years after the Ouagadougou summit, the responsible ministers from African Union member states held a meeting in Windhoek on 25 April under the aegis of the African Union Labour and Social Affairs Commission (LSAC) to prepare for the forthcoming extra-ordinary summit, which will be held under the theme: “Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Development”, and will be titled Ougaplus10.

They are undertaking a comprehensive assessment of ten years of implementation of the 2004 declaration and action plan, so as to take stock of achievements and challenges faced, as well as propose concrete actions to be taken in the next decade to create decent employment, and accelerate poverty eradication, in order to ensure inclusive development.

“In doing so, we must admit that progress has been slow. Despite encouraging and sustained economic growth rates in some of our countries and efforts by AU member states over the past decade, growth did not, unfortunately, translate into the desired job creation. Unemployment, and in particular youth unemployment, remains high and at unacceptable levels in many African countries, including Namibia”, said Namibian President Hifikipunye Pohamba, when he officially opened the LSAC.

Some of the challenges facing Africa in these efforts include low productivity performance, weakness of the labour market institutions, unemployment and under employment, structural constraints, HIV and AIDS at the workplace, skills capacity, policy coordination, monitoring and evaluation, lack of social protection and unequal opportunities for the marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The ministers’ recommendations for the September summit will be prepared based on the six key policy areas to be debated in Ouagadougou. The policy issues are youth and women employment; social protection and inclusive growth, informal economy, social economy and rural employment; productivity, competitiveness and social dialogue; labour market governance; labour migration and regional economic integration; and partnership and funding for implementation of employment policies.

“Our task as labour ministers, working with social and cooperating partners, is to put in place a comprehensive and implementable plan of action on employment, poverty eradication and inclusive development to deliver decent jobs; to the youth and women in particular”, observed the vice chairperson of the bureau of the LSAC honourable Nicholas Goche. Ministers are also expected to come up with a follow up mechanism to assess, evaluate and quantify progress made in the implementation of the declaration and plan of action.

“The fact that we are here (in Windhoek) and heading towards the extra-ordinary summit suggests that we are determined to re-examine ourselves, our methodology and our strategy to eradicate poverty, in order to ensure a better standard of living for our people”, said AU commissioner for social affairs Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko.

Based on the re-examination and the increased commitment to employment creation, poverty eradication and inclusive development, the LSAC meeting has identified the importance of better focus on the implementation of policies anchored in wider stakeholder buy in.

“A joint multi-lateral initiative with a strong buy in from all partners will allow for greater accountability, sharing of responsibilities and a stronger dynamic for implementation by each member state, of the declaration and plan of action to be adopted in Ouagadougou in September - a declaration and plan of action that must be clearly embedded within the post 2015 development agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063”, said Aeneas Chuma, the International Labour Organisation’s assistant director-general and regional director for Africa.

AU commissioner for social affairs Dr Kaloko proposed measurable outcomes that could be considered as indicators of success, going forward. These include the reduction by 2% per year, of youth and women unemployment rate; ensuring at least 10% per year of social protection coverage for the informal economy and rural workers; and increased budget allocation to employment programmes and policies.

He called upon the ILO to lead the engagement of the international partners in implementing the Ouga+10 policy instruments and the four-year implementing programmes over the decade”.