Caption: President Kenyatta is welcomed to the 2016 African Employers’ Summit in Naivasha by Federation of Kenya Employers former chairman Linus Gitahi. Looking on is Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore (right).
The First African Employers’ Summit was held in the Kenyan Resort town of Naivasha from the 5th to 7th of May. The Summit brought together the continent’s employer organizations, private and public sector decision-makers among other key stakeholders to deliberate and design an employment strategy for Africa that underscores the importance of entrepreneurship and a business-friendly environment.
The Summit was organized by Business Africa in collaboration with the Federation of Kenya Employers and the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE).
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta was the guest of honor. ILO Director General Guy Ryder and the Assistant-Director General and Regional Director for Africa, Aeneas C. Chuma also attended.
Participants representing employers drawn across 16 African countries called for the improvement of productivity, recommending that it should be adopted as a national agenda across the continent. Employers were urged to support people with HIV to keep their job as it improved adherence to anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) by 40 per cent.
In his keynote address, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that unemployment was a major crisis, calling for urgent redress, including job creation both by the government and the private sector. He challenged African leaders to personally champion the creation of robust businesses that will generate employment opportunities and spur economic growth.
President Kenyatta identified skills mismatch in the jobs market as well as the need to upscale informal jobs into formal ones as the key challenges facing job creation and raising productivity.
“A number of African countries are witnessing robust growth, but coupled with that growth is the challenge of the missing middle, a low number of mid-sized companies that act as a link between the large corporates and the informal sector. There’s also an issue of a skills mismatch among some employers,” noted the President.
He called on the private sector to take up investment opportunities to mitigate the youth unemployment crisis, underscoring the importance of creating an enabling environment suitable for businesses to thrive.
Mr Kenyatta, however, decried bureaucracies that hinder business growth, terming the bottlenecks as impediments to economic growth and job creation.
Federation of Kenya Employers executive director and BUSINESS Africa Secretary General JacklineMugo supported the resolutions, saying business leaders in Africa should pursue actions and strategies aimed at improving their productivity.
“African countries should establish and strengthen productivity management institutions. These institutions should be based on tripartite arrangements,” she said.
High Level participants include top executives and resource persons from the International Labour Organization, International Organization of Employers, Business Africa, World Bank, McKinsey & Company as well as key representatives of the private sector and policy leaders from the Government of Kenya.
Senior representatives from employers’ organisations of Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Benin, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Algeria and Ghana are expected to attend the three-day meeting.
President Kenyatta later launched a website for Business Africa, the premier employers’ federation for the continent.