By Tabora Bojang
The executive director of the Global Youth Innovation Network the Gambia chapter, Mamadou Edrisa Njie, has said that considering the depressed state of the formal job market in Africa, it is a good thing that more and more youth in Sub-Saharan Africa are looking to entrepreneurship to secure their future.
Njie was speaking during the recent forum for the exchange of ideas for development (FOREID) public symposium in Kanifing.
Njie, who is so passionate about youth development mostly in the areas of strategy, leadership and mentorship training, said young people on the continent are more upbeat about their ability to become entrepreneurs than their peers in any other region, quoting a recent global study.
He noted that the growing youthful population of the country raises many questions amongst which are employment and assuring a decent standard of living to all.
“This is indeed a major challenge in light of the results of the 2010 Integrated Household Survey (IHS), which shows that 48.4 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line of US$ 1.25 per day.
“Despite substantial improvements in access to basic education and steady economic growth, The Gambia still faces considerable challenges in respect to reducing poverty. Nearly 60 percent of the poor in The Gambia are under the age of 20 years. Youth face significant challenges with respect to employment outcomes, such as a very difficult training,” he stated.
He added: “In spite of the fact that the youth make up more than half of the population, they have limited opportunities for viable employment, education and training, skills development, and access to health and social services.”
Njie, an alumnus of the International Institute for Journalism, added that the global financial crisis coupled with the global food crisis makes it imperative that the Gambia look inwards and especially at investing in its youth in order for the country to have a viable future.
“Without a vision, well educated, highly skilled, a healthy and patriotic youth dedicated to serving their nation and taking their citizenship seriously, Gambia will be hard pressed to achieve sustainable development” he added.
He said the Government has an obligation to ensure that youth are empowered to contribute to their own development as well as being able to discharge their obligations and responsibilities to society in creating the enabling environment that can generate opportunities for their involvement in decision making that affects them, the environment and the society.