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Director-General  Qu Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu
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29 August, 2019


FAO & UNIDO Side Event at TICAD7: Launching a Flagship Initiative for Accelerating Youth Employment in Agriculture and Agribusiness in Africa


Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon, today we are launching an important initiative aimed at creating more decent job opportunities for African youth.
Africa has the youngest population in the world. Over 75 per cent of its 1.2 billion population is under the age of 35 years. By 2030, 220 million young people will enter the labor market. Harnessing this potential demographic dividend is central to accomplishing the region’s aspiration for inclusive economic transformation.
However, generating sufficient quality jobs for youth in sub- Saharan Africa is not an easy task. There are a lot of jobs that needs to be properly done. We need a lot of “big hands”, like the European Union, Japan, China or others to offer help. In that sense, we are determined to offer our service to work together with you.
The projected levels of future growth will not suffice to create the number of jobs needed. In addition, the quality of jobs remains a big concern.
The agricultural sector and the food system have untapped potential to harness the creativity and energy of the youth, and create more decent employment opportunities. The demand for food is increasing due to growing population, urbanization and rising household incomes, so you need to improve the structure of food, you need to improve the quality of food. The people in Japan and Asia enjoy high-quality food. But look at the kids in Africa, they still make life livable but it's not a high-quality. So I think there are lots of things we can do with urbanization and challenges of industrialization.     
This creates new market opportunities for producers and processors and a whole set of farm and non-farm jobs related to food processing, based on raw materials that agriculture produces. We need to improve efficiency, and more specific criterion for food processing. 
I always joke with Japanese friends; in Africa rice is rice, but in Japan and China rice is different. We have so many different rice for different purposes, so that’s a food culture that we have to introduce to Africa to make people feel that rice is something different from their understanding. That’s our job, that’s our challenge, and I think you can do so better as a friend of Africa and as one of the mandates of TICAD.  
FAO has a long-standing commitment on youth employment in the region and implements several initiatives to respond to the growing demand of our Member Countries. I don’t want to mention all, but one important aspect I should mention is institutional strengthening and policy dialogue. That’s why we need all the key players here to work together. And the second is large-scale programme development, because if we have good development we can solve the problem, without development we will create problems of conflict and instability. Employment is not an economic issue, employment is a political issue. Employment is a social stability issue. That’s why yesterday we had small dialogue on peace and instability in Sahel. It’s not only Sahel, there are other hotspots all over the world, in central Asia, and in in other regions. All trace back to employment in the countryside. That’s the root and the cause of instability and conflict. So we have to look at the larger picture. 
But we are aware that more efforts are needed. This is why, FAO and UNIDO, developed this 50 million US Dollar Flagship Initiative for Accelerating Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Development in Agriculture and Agribusiness in Africa. But beyond that we need stronger players to join us and make beautiful things happen. 
Ladies and gentlemen, the proposal is here. To make a beautiful story, we need concrete actions; actions for change, actions for dynamism, and actions to make opportunities for our young generation. Not only for Africa, but for all over the world, which in turn will help people live together harmoniusly, treating each other as a brotherhood and a sisterhood. Let’s do it now before it’s too late. 
Thank you.