Jun 2, 2020, 12:48 PM
Young people in the Gambia are choosing to ‘make it’ at home rather than go abroad, whether it’s in the arts or agriculture, tech or tourism.
In fact, youth in the Gambia one of Africa’s smallest countries have big dreams and are willing to work for them.
The youth are eager and hungry to be successful, to be job creators and to help develop our country.
After more than two decades of dictatorship, this West African country celebrated a new democratically elected government a year and a half ago.
The peaceful transition under President Adama Barrow opened the way for political and economic reforms as well as the rebuilding of bridges to the rest of the world.
Thousands of people especially youth who fled the country in hopes of finding jobs and opportunities elsewhere now have a reason to return home.
Across all age groups, unemployment is highest among Gambians aged 15 to 24 more than 44% according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
The World Bank says Africa will need to create 450 million new jobs by 2035, while it is on track to generate only 100 million.
Creating and maintaining positive change requires a united vision by youth, government, business and civil society. In May, they partnered to launch the national Youth and Trade Roadmap.
The roadmap is designed to help tackle the root causes of youth unemployment and competitive market constraints, which are at the heart of irregular migration.
The imitative is aimed at sharpening the skills and create jobs for young Gambians and directly supports the National Development Plan, which targets economic reforms to restore growth and stability in the country.
About 35% of companies report poor levels of skills among young graduates, according to a recent ITC survey on competitiveness in the Gambia.
The skills gap is particularly marked with youth trained in technical and vocational education and training institutes, so building up the capacities of these institutes, including those in rural areas, is a key priority.
The European Union, through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, has been working with ITC through YEP to provide youth with practical training as well as entrepreneurial and mentoring programmes.
Working with YEP, 1,250 Gambian youth have gained skills in industries including agribusiness; tourism; information and communications technology; fashion; and construction. Youth with bankable entrepreneurial dreams have received capital and equipment to launch their start-ups.
In the Gambia, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises employ 60% of the workforce. Investing in these businesses can help them become more competitive; create jobs, increase incomes and fuel economic growth.
Through YEP, 250 enterprises in the key sectors of agribusiness, information and communications technology, and tourism have received training and support to improve their productive capacities, increase market linkages and boost the quality of their goods and services.
Tobacco use is common among young people in The Gambia. Shisha smoking is also common in this population, and in relative terms especially among girls.