The ILO and ITU highlight opportunities for boosting youth employment in the digital economy in Ethiopia’s Afar and Somali regions

On 1 November 2021, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) invited key youth employment stakeholders to discuss, validate the results and identify potential priority areas in the study on youth employment opportunities in Ethiopia’s digital economy, in Afar and Somali regions.

News | 02 November 2021
Many young Africans face barriers to accessing decent work, which the COVID-19 pandemic has only made worse. At the same time, the digital transformation of Africa has the potential to create new jobs in the digital economy and to build back better.

The ILO and ITU ‒ in support of the African Union (AU) and under the umbrella of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth ‒ have initiated a joint programme to empower African youth, ensuring they benefit from new opportunities in the digital economy and steer it forward with their energy and creativity.

The goal of the ILO/ITU/AU Joint Programme on Boosting Decent Jobs and Enhancing Skills for Youth in Africa’s Digital Economy is to enable more young Africans to access decent work in the digital economy. This will be achieved through country-specific interventions that create decent jobs, strengthen digital skills and improve employment services. Furthermore, the programme is generating new evidence for data-driven action and the establishment of partnerships and networks for impact.

The digital economy holds promise to provide a significant amount of employment opportunities for young Ethiopians, also those on the move. To turn this promise into reality requires a focus on enabling policies, necessary infrastructure and ensuring that skills gaps, especially those pertaining to digital skill, are addressed. The Afar and Somali regions host a significant number of refugees and displaced persons who struggle to integrate and find livelihood opportunities. Recently, the regions have become better connected to the internet and there are increasing opportunities for ICT training and education, including in the energy sector.
Against this background, the ILO and ITU conducted a joint assessment of youth employment opportunities in the digital economy, Youth Employment Opportunities in the Digital Economy in Ethiopia: Afar and Somali Regions. The assessment falls within the partnership between the ILO and ITU to support the Government of Ethiopia’s (GoE) development plans and Digital Ethiopia 2025.

The ILO promotes opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity while ITU supports countries on their digital transformation journey, especially when this comes to internet connectivity and in developing digital skills, particularly in underserved communities, including among displaced persons and their host communities.

In the Somali Region, people are discouraged or feel embarrassed to consult the billboards with job advertisements because they feel ashamed to be unemployed. They don't want to be seen consulting the list.
For that reason, I think there is a great need to move beyond this traditional job matching towards a digitalization of labour market information.."

Nuriye Abdulahi, Industrial Relations Directorate Director, Bureau of Labour and Skills, Jigjiga, Somali Regional State, Ethiopia
This joint venture also reinforces PROSPECTS, a partnership launched with the support of the Government of the Netherlands that brings together the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the ILO, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank. The partnership aims to help transform the way governments and other stakeholders, including the private sector, respond to forced displacement crises.

The objective of the report, which will be published in January 2022, is to fill existing knowledge gaps on how the digital economy can drive decent job creation in Ethiopia, focusing primarily on young refugees and host community members in two refugee-hosting regions: Afar and Somali. The report focuses on the digital economy and interlinkages with the renewable energy sector to potentially support infrastructure, skills building and job creation opportunities.

For a long time, the education sector has been underfunded in our region, which has led to deficits in the quality of training provided to our youth. With this new initiative, there is renewed hope that more opportunities will be made available in a sector with great potential for growth."

Ali Mahis, Communications Director, TVET and Enterprise Bureau, Semera, Afar Regional State, Ethiopia