23 Apr 2014 18:20pm
WINDHOEK, 23 APR (NAMPA) - Africa needs to accentuate her efforts to simultaneously pursue its economic development and expand social progress for better living standards for her people, particularly the working poor in the informal economy.
The director of the African Union (AU)s Department of Social Affairs, Olawale Maiyegun made this remark during the official opening of the Experts' Meeting on the Special Session of the AU Labour and Social Affairs Commission underway in Windhoek.
Maiyegun said although Africa maintained a mean growth rate of 5,5 per cent for more than a decade, this did not translate properly into significant creation of jobs and reduction of poverty.
The theme of the special session is Employment, Poverty Eradication and Inclusive Development.
It was chosen due to the growing evidence and recognition of harsh employment challenges facing the youth and women in Africa.
The overall objectives of the two-day special session are to provide an opportunity for a High-Level Participatory Evaluation/Assessment of the Ouagadougou 2004 Declaration and Plan of Action; and facilitate building of consensus on the current and future challenges of labour markets and policy perspectives at all levels.
Maiyegun noted that the assessment of the 10-year implementation of Ouagadougou 2004 shows uneven achievements.
While modest progress was achieved in areas such as incorporation of employment policies into development plans, efforts at a labour market information system and uneven social protection, there are still many shortcomings such as the weakness of labour market institutions, high level of youth and women unemployment, the absence of operational coordination mechanism at national level, limited or inadequate funding of employment policies.
He said the persistent high level of underemployment prevailing in the informal economy and rural sector calls for a high priority in the policy setting for the next 10 years.
Combating under-employment must be at the top of Africa agenda, said Maiyegun.
This special session of the Labour and Social Affairs Commission (LASC) of the AU has brought together approximately 400 delegates from 54 AU member states.
The meeting was organised by the AU commission and the government of Namibia in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The meeting will also adopt a Revised Policy Framework for the next decade on labour, employment and social protection and discuss modalities for preparation of the AU Extra-ordinary Summit in September 2014.
Participants of the special session also include the regional economic communities, the Pan=African Parliament, AUs Economic, Social and Cultural Council, New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA), international partners, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and faith-based organisations.
The special session ends on Thursday, and will be followed by an AU meeting of ministers, which is set to be opened by President Hifikepunye Pohamba on Friday.