COTONOU, 10 Oct (IPS) – Samuel Agossou, a rabbit breeder from Benin, says government policies should push the youth to create jobs. For themselves, but also for other young people in rural areas around the world.
“Policies must strengthen the youth’s capacity; especially in rural areas, where schools and industry are scarce.” Agossou says he started his business with “only three female rabbits and one male rabbit. Seven years later, there were already 700 thousand.”
To probe the possibilities of youth to generate the development of Africa and the world, 60 young people from around the world are in Cotonou, Benin, to exhibit their innovative ideas and products.
Issifou Kogui N’Douro, the Beninese minister of defence, said in his opening remarks: “Finance is actually the biggest challenge of the implementation of the action plan developed in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. The African Union adopted the plan for the period from 2009 to 2018, aiming to reduce unemployment amongst the African youth.”
But there are examples at the Youth Entrepreneurs Fair in Benin of young people creating jobs without too much help from government. Ratoejanahary Mirado, president of the Association Vonona in Madagascar says regional governments should take note of global actions to really have an effect on young farmers. “Innovation and creativity we bring to the development do not particularly need an international plan. Our actions must be supported by our individual governments … through direct and indirect aid from the budget.”
“I worked for a whole year with my aunt in his small workshop manufacturing raffia. I was able to save a half of my salary each month. After one year, I totalized the equivalent of 150 U.S. dollars with which I decided to run my own,” she says. “Six years after I retired from the place of my aunt, my raffia products are sold throughout the world and I hold an investment of $3300 in a youth organization that I lead and in which I employ 10 other young people like me.”
Charles Feridjini, the president of the Youth Delegation of Benin to the exhibition, says the youth should take a prominent place in any government policy. “It is possible to overcome the poverty if our governments actually use of the knowledge, expertise and the power the youth has; especially in rural areas.”
Mohamed Bourga, a young Syrian fashion entrepreneur, is showing his wares at the Benin fair: “With my studio, I was able to help dozen of newlyweds to not make the trip from the village to the capital in order to buy clothes,” he says. Bourga dreams to deliver his clothing to the major cities of Syria “and possibly import wedding dresses”.
Profits allowed Samuel Agossou to buy a plot and support his family. Agoussou employs a dozen young people to look for food for the rabbits, clean their cages and keep them healthy. They earn some $25 per month. Agossou says in the right conditions, created by government and the youth, more jobs and better produce are sure to follow in Africa.