Although many African countries are now enjoying economic growth, few of the benefits are being felt by local people and businesses.
An initiative involving national and international partners from politics, the private sector and civil society aim to change all that by helping 100,000 people in Africa to achieve higher incomes, by creating 40,000 jobs and improving working conditions for 40,000 people by 2019.
There is enormous potential in sub-Saharan Africa: the region has a young and growing population, it is rich in raw materials and natural resources.
Skilled workers are in great demand in the region thanks to investment in the energy and commodities sectors as well as in the required infrastructure.
This has created a great opportunity for sustainable economic development. But skilled workers are in short supply in many areas, which means that contracts are often awarded to foreign companies.
At the same time, half the population living south of the Sahara are either underemployed or work in the informal sector without fixed contracts and reliable wages.
International partnership with a common objective
Until now, most people in Africa have not benefited from the growing economy, which is why the international Employment for Development initiative (E4D) aims to bring about permanent change.
The initiative is a partnership made up of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union and the development agencies of Korea, United Kingdom and Norway.
Also involved are various national ministries, universities, associations and organisations in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
The objective is to improve the incomes of at least 100,000 wage earners by over 10 percent by the end of 2019.
Further aims are that 40,000 people will find jobs and working conditions will be improved for another 40,000 employees.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is working on site to achieve these objectives. On behalf of BMZ and in collaboration with E4D project partners, it is also developing new vocational training programmes.
Preparing for jobs of the future, using the opportunities of the green economy
Kenya, where youth unemployment is around 17 percent, provides us with a good example.
With financial support from BMZ and the European Union, GIZ has worked with enterprises and vocational training centres to develop further training programmes for jobs that are in particular demand by industry.
Since early 2017, young men and women in the coastal region have received training to become welders, carpenters, painters and decorators, electricians, restaurateurs and hoteliers.
The initiative will therefore help almost 3,200 young Kenyans to establish a secure future with a regular job or through successful self-employment. In order to create prospects for people in Africa over the long term, the private sector has been brought on board: over 70 international companies and local enterprises are involved in public-private partnerships, working groups and initiatives.
Their support helps local suppliers, for example, to become more competitive and to improve workflows.
In return, the companies create jobs and training places and are committed to providing more extensive and better vocational education and training.
New jobs are being created primarily in the raw materials sector and the green economy – particularly in the areas of water, waste management, energy, tourism, agriculture and forestry.
Better working conditions: spotlight on health
Not all workplaces are the same, however. Workers are often required to labour under difficult and sometimes inhumane conditions.
For this reason, the BMZ programme with its partners also aims to improve working conditions. In Uganda for example, GIZ has advised 30 companies on issues of health, safety and environmental protection.
Accident and health risks have been systematically reduced, and international safety standards introduced for the benefit of over 5,400 staff.
The new standards also mean that companies can participate in international tenders in the raw materials or construction sectors.
These and many other activities implemented by the initiative help safeguard existing jobs and create new ones.
It is not just the employees who benefit, but also their families: E4D improves prospects for a total of 350,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa.