AFRICA: Working poor to increase by 20 percent - ILO

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The number of people working in extreme poverty in Africa would increase by 20 percent by 2015, Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said at the opening of the 11th regional meeting in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

"Most of the work in Africa is of a near-subsistence nature, with more than eight out of 10 workers in the informal economy [operating] with low pay, low productivity and low protection," said Somavia.

Somavia said every day 10,000 African women and men join those workers who are already living with their families on less than US$1 a day.

ILO's recent report, "The Decent Work Agenda in Africa: 2007-2015”, stated that Africa had the largest working poor in total employment of any region. In sub-Saharan Africa, 55 percent live on less than $1 a day and 80 percent on less than $2 a day.

The Director-General explained that four out of five of the 368 million workers in Africa could not earn enough to lift their families above $2 a day.

Somavia agreed with the Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, that the predominance of the informal sector accounted for Africans earning less. It also failed to meet the requirement of decent work. Kikwete said it was a challenge for everyone to address the decent work deficits, which were obvious in the informal economy.

"We know that child labour is predominant in the informal economy. And we know that workers in the informal economy lack protection, rights and representation," said the Tanzanian President. "As a result, they remain vulnerable to exploitation and mistreatment and trapped in perpetual poverty."

Somavia added that the policy advice given to African countries over the past 25 years had brought few jobs; thus he recommended African solutions for African challenges.
Author: IRIN
Source: IRIN
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