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Youth summit on the cards

Bereng Mpaki

STAKEHOLDERS at a weekend unemployment dialogue have resolved to urgently convene a youth summit to tackle Lesotho’s rampant unemployment.

The virtual dialogue was hosted by the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU) in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Accountability Unit (PMAU). It was attended by different stakeholders including youth representatives, development partners, the private sector and civil society representatives among others.

Head of the PMDU, Chaba Mokuku, told attendees that the seriousness of youth unemployment requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders and not the government alone.

He said official youth unemployment figures stood at 32, 8 percent in 2020 although the figure is likely to have increased as a result of the Covid-19-induced economic disruptions.

The gravity of youth unemployment was shown when youths staged a protest on 6 November 2020 where some protestors were injured in clashes with the police while some were detained.

“Youth unemployment is a challenge that cannot be single-handedly addressed by one institution,” Mr Mokuku said.

“It therefore, requires collaboration among various stakeholders including, inter alia, the government, the youth, the private sector, the corporates, civil society and development partners among others.”

Standard Lesotho Bank (SLB) head of relationship banking, Teboho Sello noted that several organisations were individually involved in youth empowerment initiatives but were struggling to make the desired impact due to the culture of working in silos.

In the end, there was a general consensus among the stakeholders that youth unemployment required a concerted effort to successfully tackle it.

They also agreed to hold a youth summit on a yet to be confirmed date but within the next four weeks. Before the summit, they are expected to come up with concrete measures to address unemployment.

Among the decisions made at the end of the dialogue is that:

  • There is need for collaboration for a bigger impact in tackling youth unemployment,
  • A youth summit will be held within four weeks. The youth will be actively involved in the planning, hosting of the summit and setting up of the agenda,
  • Youth participation in decision making is central towards finding sustainable solutions for unemployment,
  • The stakeholders will collaborate in mobilising resources for the implementation of the four key priority areas of the second National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II) namely agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and creative industries and technology and innovation,
  • Young entrepreneurs must be supported to overcome challenges such as access to finance and markets as well as skills acquisition.

Development partners like the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB), which were represented during the summit, committed to supporting the government in developing and implementing programmes aimed at addressing youth unemployment.

The youths also requested that the government must fund the youths’ training in areas like mining, wool and mohair, water and energy sectors.

Resources like diamonds and wool and mohair must be processed in-country to create more jobs instead of shipping them in their raw state without any value addition, the youths said.

 

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