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We Must Change the Employment Strategy – Lequotidien

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Once again, the upsurge in the capsizing of canoes or the massive departures of young migrants from Senegal and other West African countries to Spain once again raises the question of the malaise of young Senegalese. And, the said malaise would be linked, for experts and other specialists, to the question of the lack of employment in our regions. For many people, our young people would risk their lives to seek employment abroad, in Europe in particular. Clearly, our leaders do not do much, or at least not enough, to solve the issue of youth employment in our countries, and in Senegal in particular.

It’s hard to believe the accuracy of this assertion, when we see how Senegalese leaders have been struggling for decades in the hope of finding a solution to these problems. Moreover, during the “Saturday of the Economy” on Saturday July 23, at the Bopp Center, a trade unionist recalled that the different regimes have implemented several programs intended to fight against youth unemployment. It dates back to Operation Unemployed Masters, devised by Abdou Diouf, in the 1980s.  This means that the concern does not date from today. Moreover, Abdoulaye Wade, when he was an opponent, liked to ask people in his audience to raise their arms, for those who did not have a job, and promised them to change things once in business. . We have seen that, finally, some of his supporters said that “it was not Macky Sall who overthrew the Pds, but it was the Pds (party of social demand) which defeated Wade”.

But it’s not for lack of trying. Few remember that originally, the REVA project was the acrostic of « Return of Emigrants to Agriculture ». It was a question of redirecting the young people expelled from Europe towards the exploitation of the land, by organizing them into structures to manage the plots of land which were granted to them, and by guaranteeing them the flow of their harvests. Macky Sall, who arrived at a time when the “Barça or Barsakh” phenomenon was in full swing, did not abolish the Reva, but added other structures to win the job battle. For the record, the President was so optimistic at the start, that he promised us 500,000 jobs a year, before reducing it to 100,000 a year. But in a country with a large population, and where three quarters of young people are under 25, the fight quickly turned into a challenge.

Little by little, our leaders, unless they want to be demagogic, realize that the ideal of finding employment for everyone would almost be a dream. The economist Ndongo Samba Sylla, who moderated a conference on the guarantee of employment, last Saturday, moreover affirmed that it was impossible, for our economies clinging to the neo-liberal system, under the cane of the Washington Consensus to guarantee a job for all.  And unfortunately, the facts are not far from proving him right. And as it would be illusory to imagine that, having discovered oil and gas, which it will begin to exploit in less than a year, Senegal will change its political and economic regime in the near future, whatever the leader who will succeed Macky Sall, we must quickly find a strategy that could convince our young people not to launch an assault on the sea, and to fight on their land to improve their own situation.

If there was a panacea in this area, we can be convinced that the many specialists who populate our ministries as well as the research firms dearly paid by our leaders to advise them, would have already found it. Nevertheless, public authorities could already start by being transparent and truthful in their actions in favor of job seekers. It is not a question of displaying figures on the number of jobs created, when they are put in the face of people eaten away by the effects of unemployment. What impact can the work of the Der/fj have when we learn that a famous activist, theoretically not a beneficiary, was able to obtain large sums of money, with the idea of making him change his political side? Or that some beneficiaries are linked to authorities in that country?

Moreover, employment programs should not give the impression of responding to situations of social or political crisis, but of being designed for more or less long-term results. Otherwise, they would give the impression of having electoral aims, and would not seek to deal with the real problems.

By Mohamed GUEYE / mgueye@lequotidien.sn

  • Translation by Ndeye T. SOSSEH
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