A SECURITY expert says high levels of unemployment and economic exclusion have become a major security threat in Africa over the past decade where thousands of educated but unemployed youths are at risk of being recruited into terrorist groups.

BY NYASHA CHINGONO RECENTLY IN RABAT, MOROCCO

Unemployed youths are the target of these terrorist organisations with statistics showing that since 2013, an estimated 17 000 child soldiers have been recruited in South Sudan and up to 10 000 have been recruited in the Central African Republic.

With Zimbabwe among the countries battling high unemployment rates, experts warn the country could easily slide into political instability.

“Unemployment is one of the root causes of security issues, usually when we speak about security we think about the behaviour of violence … but what lies behind violence is exclusion. Unemployment is a form of exclusion,” Gain Mohamed Ahmed, head of the African Institute for Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation told the NewsDay recently in Morocco.

Ahmed said unemployment and economic exclusion had exacerbated security concerns in hotspots like north and central Africa while southern Africa was prone to political instability.

“Terrorism is only one among other issues in Africa. We have hybrid security crisis. We can’t talk about terrorism as an isolated issue. Climate change, political crisis are security issues. We need to do preventative work to curb terrorism, we should correct the wrong mentality,” Ahmed said.

“We should not craft policies that target youth without involving youth. Peace and security issues — sustaining peace goes first through human development — education, vocational training — enhancing civic space, enhancing access to rights — social, cultural, political and human rights. Youth should be at the forefront.”

In Zimbabwe unemployment has led to many graduates doing menial jobs while others engage in criminal activities.

While President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government promised millions of jobs during the 2018 campaign period, people continue to lose their jobs as companies fold under economic pressures.

Ahmed said Africa could encourage the inclusion of youths through opening the democratic space.

“I am optimistic because I feel democratic sphere in Africa is widening through the challenges but it is our role as young people to push for democracy and more inclusion. Youth should be involved, we should be included,” Ahmed said.