In developing and emerging economies, creating productive jobs for a growing labour force is paramount in the struggle to eradicate poverty and improve living standards.

Researchers emphasise the need to enhance national social protection platforms, invest in social-economic development and consolidate the economic recovery processes across Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa certainly has employment challenges to overcome and responding to such challenges necessitates re-orientating national strategic priorities in such a way that the current economic growth agendas become pro-employment.

An average increase in productivity results in nations getting richer, however this is not only achieved by doing things that the country is already good at, but rather by making investments that allow them to move from less productive activities to those with higher value added per worker. In recent years, Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed decant development and improvement in labour market outcomes. This was aided by continuous years of strong economic performance. Collective statistics offer a glimpse of the scale of the overall employment challenge, yet the possible answers lie mostly in policies created and applied at the national level.

While the increase in productivity growth in the 2000s is a reassuring sign, this positive trend is by no means universal across countries. In particular, nations such as Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique stand out with compound annual growth rates in excess of 5%. These countries all benefited from the commodities boom. 

Research based in Tanzania indicates that informal apprenticeships can play a similar role and upturn the productivity of young entrants into the labour market. Achieving the right skills base is therefore a centerpiece in many countries’ strategies to advance productivity. In broader terms, worthy occupational safety and health provisions and workers’ access to health care can help guarantee that workers remain productive.

Mining (which accounts for more than one-third of Botswana’s output but employs less than 4 per cent of the country’s modern sector workforce) stands out for its high labour productivity, which is approximately ten times the average of the entire economy.

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