Africa needed to create 2.4 million jobs per year to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, the International Labour Office (ILO) said.
Regina Amadi-Njoku, ILO regional director for Africa, told journalists the continent needed 11 million jobs every year to meet the MDGs; however, only 8.6 million jobs were available. There are 368 million workers in Africa, which accounts for 11.9 percent of the total world labour force.
According to the ILO report, "The Decent Work Agenda in Africa: 2007-2015", the annual increase in Africa's labour force is nine million and is expected to increase by 10 million per year in the period under review.
"Despite the pick-up in growth over the last three years, employment is only expanding by around 8.6 million a year, with a consequent increase in the numbers of jobless persons," the report stated.
Amadi-Njoku said unemployment was one of the issues that would be raised at the 11th African Regional Meeting of the ILO, to be held over three days from 24 April in Addis Ababa. The meeting is held once every four years.
Sustainable enterprises, job creation, youth employment, child labour, labour migration, social protection, HIV/AIDS and female entrepreneurship are some of the issues that will be addressed.
The 2006 overall unemployment rate in Africa was estimated at 10.3 percent, comprising 9.8 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and 12.7 percent in North Africa. The continent also accounts for the largest number of working poor compared with the total employment of any region.
"It is estimated that around 55 percent of all people employed in sub-Saharan Africa do not earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the US$1 a day poverty line and about 80 percent are subsisting on less than $2 per day," the report elaborated.
African countries are not only lagging behind in achieving a sustainable employment rate; economic growth is also way behind what is necessary to meet the MDGs.
The report explained that if it is planned to halve poverty in 2015, as set out in the MDGs, a minimum 7 percent average growth rate is needed every year. However, statistics showed that the African region grew by 5.4 percent in 2005 and 2006 and is projected to grow by 5.9 percent in 2007.
"Growth without employment does not address poverty," the regional director said. "We have a mixed-bag situation. Africa is at a crossroads."
Three hundred participants are expected at the 11th African Regional Meeting of the ILO, including the Director-General, Juan Somavia, and several African presidents.