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Executive summary

Title The Gambia Youth Empowerment Project
Duration 4 years
Geograhical Location The Gambia
Total Cost 11 Million Euros
Implementing Partner International Trade Center

Overall Objective: To develop the economy by increasing training and employment opportunities for populations prone to migration or returnees to The Gambia


Specific Objective: To tackle the root causes of irregular migration through increased job opportunities and income prospects for youth. The project will improve skills, foster entrepreneurship and create employment along selected value chains

Expected Results: ER

ER1. Improved employability and self-employment opportunities for youth

ER2. Increased employment opportunities along selected value chains

Direct Beneficiaries/Target groups

Gambian vocational training and technical institutes

Gambian MSMEs and private sector and related associations

Business Support Institutions

Youth, particularly those prone to migration

Final Beneficiaries

Youth population in the Gambia. Youth between 15 and 35 years, Gambian enterprises, women, rural population

Country Focal Point

Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment (MOTIE)

                              Sector Context

The Gambia remains on the list of least developed countries. The country's economy is significantly depending on tourism and agriculture, both sectors having recently been subject to negative external factors, such as the impact of Ebola on employment in tourism, and the insufficient rainfall with its consequences for agriculture and food security.

The Gambian economy's recent performance has not been favourable for the creation of job and employment opportunities. This compounded by a series of economic and climate related shocks has triggered a significant growth in rural-urban migration as well as created an upsurge in irregular migration to Europe over land via Libya and other crossing points. Indeed, in 2014 The Gambia had the 3rd highest number of asylum seekers in Italy, about 0.5% of the population. The majority of migrants are male youths, between the ages of 18 and 47 and are averagely educated. In Italy, ca. 73 per cent of asylum seekers from The Gambia are rejected and returned to their country of origin.

The Gambia’s development strategy and investment programme titled Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE) that covered the period 2012-2015 had been promoting an accelerated and shared growth coupled with job creation as its main objective. It operationalizes The Gambia’s Vision 2020, which is “to transform The Gambia into a financial centre, a tourism paradise, a trading, export-oriented agriculture and manufacturing nation, thriving on free market policies and vibrant private sector, sustained by well-educated, trained, skilled, healthy, self-reliant and enterprising population and guaranteeing a well-balanced ecosystem and a decent standard of living for one and all, under a system of Government based on the consent of the citizenry”. The Government of The Gambia is currently in the process of formulating a new National Development Plan (NDP) to succeed the PAGE. The NDP will consolidate the gains of the PAGE implementation and address challenges within the context of the Vision 2020.

In The Gambia, youth unemployment and underemployment are major barriers to development. Not only does young peoples’ exclusion from the labour force perpetuate generational cycles of poverty, it also breaks down social cohesion and can be associated with higher levels of youth crime and delinquency. As Africa in general, The Gambia has a huge "youth bulge": UNDP’s NHD Report (2014) identified that youth (aged 13-30 years) make up 36.7% of the Gambian population. According to the Gambian Labour Force Survey (2012) the youth unemployment rate is 38%. There is a marked differential in male and female unemployment, with close to 20.9 per cent and 38.3 per cent, respectively. This project supports The Gambia National Youth Policy and the National Employment Policy (NEP), which both recognize youth employment as a significant and growing problem in The Gambia. According to The Gambia Decent Work Country Programme (GDWBC), currently the pressing issue is the high unemployment rate among urban youths aged 15-34 years old. The unemployment rate is relatively higher in rural areas (31.1%) compared to urban areas (28.4%) According to the National Youth Profile Study 2010, unemployment rates are generally higher among the more educated and the highest is among youths with secondary education (about 15%) whilst the lowest is found in those without schooling (4%) who are mostly self-employed as farmers, labourers and petty traders.

Most sectors in the Gambia have extremely low labour productivity. Large segment of the population of The Gambia is working in the informal services sector. With a poverty rate of nearly 50 percent (70 in rural areas) and its workforce employed in low wage, low productivity sectors combined with a high fertility rate will keep the residents in poverty unless the structure of the economy is changed; workers need move from low paying low productivity sectors to higher productivity sectors, or the productivity in the underperforming sectors needs to be improved.

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