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How is life in your city? If there is one problem that most young urban West Africans agree about, it is a lack of jobs.

In July 2020,  more than 4 000 young people were surveyed across 17 countries and 27 cities in West Africa and the Sahel to find out how they feel  about their cities – what they like, what they dislike and what they think should be the priorities for their local governments. Here are the some results.

  • Africa’s fast-growing cities are youthful. More than two-thirds of the residents of some of the continent’s largest cities like Lagos, Dakar, Accra and Abidjan are below the age of 30. How these cities, and hundreds of others, will look like in 20-30 years depends on the ability of urban youth to shape urban development with their ideas, preferences and visions.
  • Young West Africans like many aspects of their cities. 79% think that they are good places to make new friends, 67% say that it is easy to move around with public transport and 58% of respondents agree that their cities are interesting.
  • Overall, young men have a slightly more favourable perception of their cities than young women.
  • Generally, young West Africans in larger cities are more likely to agree that downsides exist in their city than respondents in smaller cities. Yet, even when city size is taken into account, important differences across cities exist. 
  • Just as there are gender differences in the perception of the upsides of urban life, there are also gender differences in the perception of its downsides. The difference is strongest with respect to public safety. (OECD)

If there is one problem that most young urban West Africans agree about, it is a lack of jobs. On average, less than one-quarter of respondents agrees that “it is easy to find a good job” in their city. In two cities (Lomé, Togo and Bissau, Guinea-Bissau), the share is below 10%. Only in Kano and Kumasi do more respondents agree than disagree that it is easy to find a job.

  • The result does not imply that West African cities do not create jobs. To the contrary, job opportunities are likely an important factor in the attractiveness of cities contributing to their strong growth. Yet, the pace of job creation in cities is exceeded by an even faster population growth, highlighting the challenge that policy makers face to create sufficient jobs. Moreover, the quality of available jobs might not always correspond to the expectations of respondents.
  • The urgent need for more jobs for young people in cities is also reflected in the expectations that young West Africans have of their governments. On average, 71% of respondents say that improving the economy is one the most important policy tasks of local governments — roughly 12 percentage points ahead of the second most important policy field, health policy.

Visit the source page to learn more and explore the maps and graphs.(OECD)

Further reading from UNCCD Library: Provide young people with new skills to meet the needs of a 21st century labor market

Publications, articles and more about youth employment opportunities, youth and agriculture from UNCCD Library:

oecd survey