Employers are powerful drivers of economic, social well-being in Africa, says ILO

International Labour Organisation

International Labour Organisation

The speed and pattern of private sector development will significantly influence sustained, strong and inclusive growth in Africa, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, has said.

ILO head addressed the first ever African Employers’ Summit held in the city of Naivasha, Kenya.

“African employers and enterprises will have to be, actually, they are, powerful drivers of economic and social well-being on the continent,” he added.

Referring to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal #8, the ILO Director-General stressed the significant role African employers could play to create economic growth that leaves no one behind.

He insisted on the necessity to build broad and multi-stakeholder partnerships to meet this ambitious objective, using social dialogue between government, employers and workers as a backbone of employment policies.

“The 2030 Development Agenda represents a unique, sophisticated and ambitious agenda. It places the actors of the world of work at the centre of development as well as the objectives of development. The private sector is centred as key actors in its implementation,” he said.

According to him, building strong partnerships is critical to developing the economy.

“We need strong champions to build partnerships with and push the industry in the direction that we all know is a winning nexus between business image, productivity and long-term profits, and consistent application of most basic rights at work throughout the supply chains,” Ryder said.

Ryder also mentioned the scale of challenges ahead for African economies, such as strong levels of informal work and high unemployment rates among the youth with a working population growing by 18 million every year.

“The sub-Saharan demographic dividend is going to continue till the middle of the century. The question before African tripartite partners is: are you going to cash in this extraordinary, exceptional and unique dividend or is it going to be just a time bomb,” he warned.

Finally, the ILO Director-General called on African business leaders to massively engage in the national tripartite dialogues that the ILO has launched as part of its Future of Work Initiative. He insisted this was not a merely academic or celebratory exercise but an essential contribution to prepare for changes that will affect the world of work in Africa and beyond over the next decade.

“Our world of work today is not anything like it was 10 years ago. There are some mega drivers of change including technology, climate change and demographics,” he concluded.

The Summit was opened by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya who also referred to the extent to which enterprise is essential to development.

“I am here because, as President, I know Governments cannot drive development alone, and because I realize that though Government has a role to play in supporting the kind of enterprise that creates employment, public policy is just one part of a much broader solution,” he said.

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