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Key findings
  • On average across 34 countries, about one-third of respondents said they were employed full-time (22%) or part time (12%), while 27% were unemployed and 39% were not active in the labor market
  • Among those active in the labor market: o More than four in 10 (44%) were unemployed. Unemployment was disproportionately high among women, rural residents, and citizens who were less educated, young, or poor
  • Unemployment continued to rank as the most important problem that Africans want their government to address.
  • Almost three-fourths (73%) of Africans gave their government poor marks on job creation.
  • Finding a job and escaping economic hardship are the most important reasons why Africans would consider emigration.

Even in the best of times, unemployment is a major challenge for most African countries. The continent’s relatively robust economic growth over the past two decades has failed to translate into sustained employment gains and poverty reduction (Baah-Boateng, 2016). Adding about 3 million jobs a year will not come close to absorbing the 10-12 million people entering the labor market annually as the workforce grows more rapidly in Africa than in any other region (International Labour Organization, 2016; Yeboah & Jayne, 2016; African Development Bank Group, 2020).

And these are not the best of times: If the COVID-19 pandemic persists, Africa could lose millions of jobs in both the formal and informal sectors (African Union, 2020).

Yet these are the realities facing African leaders and their development partners: According to citizens’ views recorded by Afrobarometer, jobs are consistently their top priority, and they are increasingly dissatisfied with their government’s efforts to create them.

Makanga Ronald Kakumba

Makanga Ronald Kakumba is a research associate for Hatchile Consult Ltd., Afrobarometer’s national partner in Uganda.

Derick Msafiri

Derick Msafiri is an intern for REPOA, the Afrobarometer national <br /> partner in Tanzania.