Underground crime flourishes in times of high unemployment, conference hears
By Shafaat Shahbandari
Dubai: As many as 11 million young Africans enter the job market every year yet 70 per cent of them remain unemployed due to skill mismatch, delegates at the closing day of the fourth UAE Counter-Piracy conference heard on Thursday.
Speakers at the conference raised concerns about the spike in drug trafficking and the growing link between pirates and smugglers, particularly in West Africa.
Underground market activities flourish in times of high unemployment.
Calling for a shift in the education system that could provide youngsters with the right skill sets to be employed by the private sector, Didier Acouetey, President of think tank AfricSearch Group, said: ‚ÄúWe need an urgent reform of the education system all over Africa as well as a change in the mindsets of parents. Most of the job opportunities in the African continent are of a technical nature but around 80 per cent of the graduates coming out of the universities are from the fields of social sciences.‚Äù
According to the McKinsey Global Institute report, released recently, more than 70 million jobs are expected to be created by the private sector in Africa, but Acouetey is concerned whether the continent can produce that many graduates with the right skill sets.
‚ÄúWe talk about fighting poverty, piracy and other organised crimes yet we don‚Äôt adopt the right policies in the field. We are a continent where 80 per cent of the people are around the age of 25, we need to groom these people and tap into our resources if we want to bring about a change,‚Äù he added.
One of the shifts he advocates is the way resources are handled in the region, Dr Sintiki Ugbe, another panellist at a special session on The Future Leaders of Africa, agreed.
He agreed that parents need to change their mentality and accept some responsibility to usher in change.
‚ÄúUntil recently, in most of the African countries governments were the primary employers but not anymore, now the private sector is the primary employer and parents should focus on equipping their children with the skill sets required by the private sector,‚Äù said Dr Ugbe, who is the Director of Gender and Child Development at the Economic Community of West African States Commission.
The two-day conference, reiterated the continued presence of naval forces in the Horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, while also scaling up efforts on land to address the root causes of piracy.
Masterminds at large
Despite relative success in containing piracy off the coast of Somalia, pirates are still at large and not a single piracy kingpin is in custody at this stage.
The grave need to bring the kingpins and financiers of pirates to justice was highlighted by experts at a plenary session of the fourth UAE Counter-Piracy conference.
‚ÄúBringing pirate kingpins to justice is key to build on the success gained over the last few years and Somalia has to act in this regard with the help of countries that are supporting it. If arrests are not made urgently than the threat will continue to remain and may resurface anytime,‚Äù said Alamdar S. Hamdani, Deputy Chief, Counterterrorism Section, National Security Division, US Department Of Justice.