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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa



Conference Announcement and Call for Papers: Youth Unemployment in Africa

Deadline: 15 April, 2014

Programme on African Economies

Date: 4-5 September 2014
Venue: Gaborone, Botswana

Within the context of its effort to consolidate its work on development and economies in Africa into a Programme on African Economies, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce its international conference on Youth Unemployment in Africa to be held in Gaborone, Botswana from 4 to 5 September 2014. The conference is part of the Council’s effort to foster historically complex, theoretically sophisticated and empirically grounded understanding of the continent’s economies and development prospects. It forms part of CODESRIA’s effort at contributing to more effective and socially inclusive economic policy-making and implementation in Africa and at helping improve and magnify African voices on African economic issues.

Africa has one of the most youthful populations in the world, raising the question of whether the large proportion of young people represents a problem or a source of enrichment as the continent refashions itself in the 21st Century. The recent boom in both public and private educational institutions across the continent seems to provide an excellent mechanism for transforming youth into productive citizens. Further, the impressive growth rates of many African economies seems to promise jobs and entrepreneurial possibilities for the growing number of young people graduating from these institutions.

Unfortunately, impressive economic growth in many countries has not coincided with significant growth in jobs and shocking levels of unemployment plague countries on the continent. This has particularly hit youth badly with up to 50% of youths in some African countries neither employed nor enrolled in any kind of training or educational institution according to the 2013 Data Sheet of the Population Reference Bureau.

High youth unemployment in Africa constitutes an important subject of research partly because of its potential interactions with many issues that impact the continent’s developmental possibilities. These issues also constitute major concerns of many social science disciplines. In the area of peace and security, unemployed youth can constitute combatant reserves and potential recruits for transnational organized criminal gangs while competition for jobs between such youth and ‘strangers’ can fan the flames of xenophobic violence. Scholars of social relations have reflected on the impacts of youth unemployment on changing definitions of ‘youth’ and ‘adulthood,’ on the transition from youth to adulthood, on gender relations and on intergenerational relations. High levels of youth unemployment could also impact public health in limiting the ability of large sections of the population to afford decent healthcare and in limiting the contributions of youths to public insurance systems through taxation. In Economics this limited contribution of unemployed youth to state taxes is only one in a complex of issues that also includes the changing nature of ‘work,’ the economic costs of the exclusion of some of the most active people and the pressure to innovate that the cut-throat competition unleashed by joblessness brings about.

CODESRIA seeks to bring together African scholars and intellectuals from across the social sciences as well as Law and the Humanities at its international conference to share knowledge in interdisciplinary ways that will reflect the truly diverse implications and manifestations of the issue of youth unemployment in Africa. The Council particularly seeks to promote innovative research that sheds new light on African economic realities that go beyond dominant ways of perceiving and relating with the continent. While seeking to promote knowledge and conversations rooted in the thorough empirical investigation of African realities, CODESRIA places particular importance on effort at moulding such empirical work into broader theoretical statements about societies on the continent.

CODESRIA invites papers focusing on the sub-themes below for its conference on Youth and Unemployment in Africa:

1. Rethinking concepts: ‘youth,’ ‘adulthood,’ ‘employment,’ ‘work’ and leisure’ in 21st Century Africa;
2. Youth unemployment in Africa through gendered lenses;
3. The causes of high youth unemployment rates in Africa;
4. The myriad effects and implications of high youth unemployment rates in Africa;
5. Innovation and youth adaptation to high unemployment rates;
6. Educating African workers for the economies of the future;
7. Understanding job creation and unemployment in Africa: local, national and regional considerations;
8. Exploring interactions: growth, investment and youth unemployment in Africa.

Those interested in participating in the conference are invited to send their abstracts and CVs with full contact details including email addresses and phone numbers to CODESRIA not later than 15 April, 2014. Authors of abstracts selected should be ready to submit full papers by 30 June 2014. All documents should be sent by email to pae@codesria.sn. Please use the subject “PAE 2014” when sending your emails.

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