ADDIS ABABA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) reiterates call for concerted efforts to address young people unemployment and underemployment in Africa, which is one of the top challenges facing young men and women on the continent.
A three-day Pan-African Youth Empowerment Conference kicked off on Tuesday at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, which aims to promote African youth participation and deepen their engagement in the process of shaping the continent's employment, entrepreneurship and innovation trajectory.
Including African youth from 47 African countries, policy makers, employers and development partners are participating in the Conference, which is expected to share learning, perspectives and possible solutions to overcome youth unemployment and underemployment challenges on the continent.
Presenting the speech of the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry during the opening of the Conference, Prudence Ngwenya, Head of Human Resources and Youth Development at the pan-African bloc, noted that young people across Africa are facing challenges of finding decent employment and climbing out of poverty.
Unemployment is the key challenge facing African young people, which is heightened by mismatch between skills and labor market needs, said the official.
Recent figure by the African Development Bank (AfDB) reveals that there are 480 million youth on the continent, and the number is expected to grow to 850 million by 2050.
"With more than 65 percent of the population being under the age of 35, securing employability and self-employment for young people, achieved through innovative approaches, could be the best weapon to fight against poverty and the numerous associated challenges," said Ngwenya.
Focusing on employment and entrepreneurship, the conference has been organized by the AU Commission and the SOS Children's Village International, providing a platform for engagement between high-level officials and young people.
About 10 million African young people are entering the job markets every year, and only 3 million are getting wage employment, which shows the challenge is significant, said Dereje Wordofa, International Director for the Region, SOS Children's Villages International.
The conference allows young people to share their perspectives with key stakeholders on the opportunities and challenges they face but also, they will explore opportunities for job creation, entrepreneurship and self-reliance, according to Dereje.
Deliberations at the conference is expected to lead to the development of an Action Plan for African Youth Employability and Entrepreneurship.