What Works for Youth Employment in Africa

PEP is partnering with the Mastercard Foundation for a three-year initiative on “What Works for Youth Employment in Africa”. It aims to provide evidence that can drive policy reform to increase youth employment in ten African countries. 

The evidence and resources to be generated by this initiative will promote more inclusive and rewarding work opportunities for young people, especially women and other marginalized groups. The initiative aligns with the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy that seeks to enable 30 million young Africans, and particularly women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.

Local evidence to improve youth employment policy in Africa

Teams of local researchers and policy stakeholders will carry out gender-aware policy and impact reviews in each of the ten countries. The analysis and findings from these reviews will establish a body of knowledge on youth employment policy in Africa and be gathered in a new online knowledge repository. 

Youth Entrepreneurs in Uganda. Two young women weigh and fill plastic packaging with baby cereal.
Photo: Karin Bridger for USAID

This extensive and well-organized repository will provide access to resources and evidence to government officials, youth organizers, and other stakeholders. It will help policymakers and practitioners design more efficient, scalable and better-targeted programs that can drive youth employment on the continent.

PEP’s research-policy coproduction model combined with a consultative approach seeks to foster ownership of the project outputs by the government, policy practitioners, and beneficiaries in each country,” said Professor Jane Mariara, Executive Director of PEP. 

Mobilizing and uniting a range of stakeholders, including youth and youth organizations, as part of this approach should ensure the sustainability of the initiative and the long-term adoption of evidence-informed policymaking,” she said.

During the project cycle, the in-country project teams will receive training and mentorship from PEP’s international scientific and policy experts to ensure the quality and usability of the work.

Addressing an urgent need

In many countries, youth work strategies have developed in a fragmented manner, with the duplication of some policies while other potentially high-impact areas are neglected. For similar reasons, government financing is often spread too thin to achieve the policy objectives. 

To be able to make equitable and sustainable decisions, policymakers urgently need access to a body of knowledge and evidence that will provide insights about emerging trends in the marketplace, real and potential disruptions, and current and future opportunities,"

Prof. Jane Mariara, PEP Executive Director

Youth unemployment remains a critical challenge and opportunity for the continent. But, to tap into the power of young people to drive economic growth we need a clearer sense of what works—and just as importantly what doesn’t work—to enable opportunity. This information is critical for all decision makers,”

Daniel Hailu, Mastercard Foundation Regional Head, Eastern and Southern Africa.


Country projects

Empirical review of youth employment policies in:

Ghana    Kenya   Niger    Nigeria     Rwanda    Senegal    Uganda

Burkina Faso    Ethiopia     South Africa



Policy Briefs

An empirical review of youth employment policies and programmes in:

Ghana           Kenya           Niger

Nigeria          Senegal          Uganda

Working Papers

What works for Youth Employment in Africa: A review of youth employment policies and their impact in:

Ghana           Kenya         Niger

Nigeria          Senegal          Uganda

Policy Papers

Empirical review of youth employment policies (YEPs) and their impact in:

Ghana      Kenya       Niger

Nigeria      Senegal       Uganda


MCF logo partnership with


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