Sharing experience on the informal economy

EU website. Over three days representatives of the African Union and European Commissions and Member States, as well as members of civil society, researchers and partners from international organizations have met to share experiences on employment, social protection and decent work issues with the aim to pave the way for a more comprehensive cooperation and implementation of the Action Plan on Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa, adopted in Ouagadougou (2004) and for a better integration of employment and social protection in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy‘s Partnership on Migration, Mobility and Employment (MME).

The recent workshop mobilised stakeholders involved in Africa-EU partnership on migration, mobility and employment to debate in plenary and parallel sessions over three days (30 June – 2 July 2010) on employment and decent work, job creation in Africa and the challenge of the informal economy, skills development and labour market needs, improvement of working conditions and extension of social protection coverage, particularly to the most vulnerable, including women and young people in Africa.

Participants of each session summarised their discussions and presented recommendations which will be presented during the upcoming joint expert meeting of the Africa-EU migration, mobility and employment partnership. The recommendations are also expected to feed in the 2011-13 Action Plan of the MME Partnership while we hope they can influence discussions at the 3 rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, the regional meeting on Social protection in Yaoundé and the meeting of Social development Ministers in Khartoum.

From continental to local

This meeting resulted in a consensus on the need for sustainable and balanced growth, strengthening the role of employment, social protection and social dialogue in development with proposed actions at different levels with special attention to cross-cutting gender issues.

It has been suggested to harmonize information systems and the analysis of labour markets at continental level, to increase the recognition of qualifications and professional experiences, to establish guidance at AU level for the elaboration of employment contracts, to respect and disseminate core labour standards, to establish guidelines for AU Member States on strategy implementation.

At regional level participants suggested to support dialogue on migration workers and to harmonize labour rights and social protection among Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

At national level there seems to be a strong need for restructuring social protection systems in order to extend their coverage to the informal economy, for adopting innovative schemes and enhancing decentralization. Furthermore, it is recommended to continue capacity building for information services of public and private labour markets and employment services; to enhance social policy and protection capacity building within relevant ministries, local authorities and social partners; to promote social dialogue and social protection in the design and monitoring of labour-based programs, to support SMEs.

It has been jointly argued for a need of rural population competence development and creation of platforms bringing together local authorities and civil society organizations involved in informal economy at local level.

Final document of outcomes will be available on website later.

Importance of employment and decent work

It is generally accepted that poverty can be reduced and people’s livelihoods enhanced through the reduction of inequality and unemployment. It is therefore imperative to encourage the adoption of a human-centered approach to development, which promotes employment friendly growth including labour intensive policies and investment in human and social capital.

In 2004 African Union extraordinary Summit has adopted the Ouagadougou Declaration and its Plan of Action, which places employment creation as an explicit and central objective of economic and social policies at national, regional and continental level. It supports the promotion of the decent work agenda including the enhancement of the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all sectors in the society, particularly the poor and vulnerable people.

The EU supports AU efforts to create more and productive and better jobs in Africa, in particular for youth and women, in line with the UN Decent work for all agenda though its partnership on migration, mobility and employment .

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