PARTNERSHIP, RESEARCH AND CAPACITY-BUILDING FOR YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT SOLUTIONS IN AFRICA (PRAC 4 YUSA)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Lagos
Department Name: ARUA CoE for Unemployment & Skills Dev

Abstract

The policies, strategies and programs introduced to address youth unemployment in Africa (e.g., entrepreneurial skills development, funding young farmers, counseling, investing in accelerators and incubators to support the launch of new businesses) are not working. In sub-Saharan Africa, 64.4 million youth lived in extreme or moderate poverty (less than $3.10 per day) in 2016. Nigeria's youth unemployment rate grew from 11.7% in 2014 to 36.5% in 2018 and youth unemployment rates in Egypt, Kenya and South Africa reached all-time highs in 2017. To design and implement programs that can effectively reduce youth unemployment in Africa, we need to increase the multi-disciplinary research capacity of African university professors, learn from countries that have successfully reduced youth unemployment, engage African youth in the process of identifying the core of the unemployment problem and approaches to solve it, and maintain databases that store and manage large amounts of digital information that is accurate and reliable. The goal of this project is to build significant research capacity across African universities to help reduce youth unemployment in African countries, starting with: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa.The expected outcomes at the end of three years after project start are: i) One high-performing hub that has the capacity to raise external funds, form partnerships, explore entrepreneurial activities, attract excellent mentors worldwide, and anchor a research network across African universities; ii) 12 doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows and 13 faculty members distributed across African universities who can carry out research in how to reduce youth unemployment in Africa; and iii) Models, local best practices and reliable digital data that can be applied to reduce youth unemployment in Africa. To achieve its objectives, the project will carry out five major initiatives: i) Baseline assessment- establishes existing gaps that necessitate research investment; ii) Networking Events - hosts conferences, workshops and seminars; iii) international placement events to develop the capacity to reduce youth unemployed of all the individuals and organizations that are part of the hub-and-spokes network; iv) Research Labs - trains and mentors young academics from the six African countries to define problems, set objectives and priorities, conduct sound research, and identify solutions to high youth unemployment in Africa as well as work collaboratively; v) Infrastructure and Dissemination- documents and updates models, local best practices and digital databases that can be applied to design and implement policies, strategies and programs to reduce youth unemployment in Africa; and shares the reports produced and the digital data that is used and created by the project with all stakeholders. The project comprised of a team of experts drawn from universities in Five African countries (University of Lagos Nigeria, University of Ghana, University of Cape Town, South Africa, University of Nairobi Kenya, and The America University in Cairo, Egypt), three universities in the United Kingdom (Lancaster University, University of Strathclyde , Coventry University and University of Derby) and 2 in North America (Carleton University, Canada and University of Iowa, USA) The investment required is 600 thousand pounds. The funds will be invested in capacity building and networking (70%), scoping studies (20%) and administrative support (10%). This project responds to the urgent need for a multi-country strategic approach to address high youth unemployment rates in African countries. The project greatly benefits young career academics in different African countries because it provides a platform for them to build their research capacities in one or more of the nine focus areas of the ARUA, USD-CoE and the resources that can be leveraged to form partnerships and explore entrepreneurial opportunities

Planned Impact

The sponsorship and execution of this capacity building project will be extremely beneficial to:
a. PhD Students that the Capacity Building Grant will Train (with full scholarship across the five participating African Countries )
b. Postdoctoral scholars that the grant will support
c. Female gender entrepreneurship and capacity building
d. Faculty members of the 5 participating universities
e. The Hub and the Spoke Institutions (University of Lagos and others)
f. Impact Partners Institutions (Copperbelt University Zambia, Kenyatta University Kenya, Federal Institute for Industrial Research Oshodi Nigeria, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Ghana, National Commission for Science and Technology Malawi, African Women in Science and Engineering Kenya)
g. Foreign UK and North America institutions
h. African youth
i. Government and Policy Makers and Youth Advocacy Organisations
j. UKRI and GCRF
k. ARUA Organisation
l. UN SDGs 2030 Project

For example, the different individuals, group and organisations will benefit from this research when;
i)Early career academics are opportune to receive full PhD sponsorship in an academic mobility program from any of the participating African universities as well as have international exposure from any of the foreign international partners from the three UK universities and two North America Universities that have promised to provide solid support and mentor-ship for this capacity building program;
ii)Postdoctoral students have the opportunity of leveraging mobility among the African Partner Universities to consolidate on their research in any of the 9 research focused areas of the ARUA, USD-CoE;
iii)Faculty members of the 5 African Universities have the benefit of being exposed to pragmatic and applied research that have been undertaken by countries like UK, Canada and United States that have developed solution-based institutions and frameworks in the past to combat youth unemployment. Hub and Spoke Team Leads are sponsored for experiential learning to Lancaster University, University of Strathclyde, Coventry University, Carleton University or/and University of Iowa working with Senior Faculty Members for three months to have international exposure capable of engaging meaningful research that its products can solve the menace of unemployment in Africa;
iv)Particular efforts are geared towards specific research focus on gender entrepreneurship, inclusion and opportunities for the female gender in Africa to realise their potentials given that they are the most hit with youth unemployment in Africa;
v)African youth engage directly in the piloted entrepreneurship and innovation challenge project meant to help them activate their potential and discover the innovative talents they have to combat unemployment
vi)The various universities participating in this project will have improved global ranking and have opportunity to build Faculty members capable of winning international grants in the future and ARUA as an organisation achieves its objective of raising quality financial capability to drive collaborative research in Africa;
vii)Impact Partner institutions have opportunities to mentorship by the ARUA Universities and to send delegates to attend the projects workshops and conferences;
viii)UKRI-GCRF fulfils its mandate and primary objective of impactful developmental programmes for capacity building in science and research, create new projects and assist to build equitable research partnership, innovation and knowledge exchange in both UK and developing countries.
ix)Research outputs from the project enlighten government on the menace of unemployment and drive advocacy that can influence policy makers towards the right direction to resolve youth unemployment; and
x)All research efforts and outcome raise quality people that are positioned to drive all the variables that will ensure the realisation of the SDGs project of UN in Africa by year 2030

Publications

10 25 50