South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. FILE PHOTO: Bongani Shilubane / African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - African economies are unable to absorb a significant proportion of young people because the education system is not aligned to needs, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

In a speech prepared for delivery at the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) annual policy dialogue forum on secondary education, Ramaphosa said the continent’s demographic dividend would only be earned through investment in youth, its highest-yielding resource.

Africa has a large proportion of young people who constitute about a fifth of all people under 25 years in the world. Research shows that 37 percent of the 600 million labour force in sub-Saharan Africa is aged below 25.

Ramaphosa said this was a great advantage for Africa, considering that most developed countries were ageing.

“They need young people to work and grow their economies while contributing to taxes to subsidise social programmes for the elderly,” he said. “We in Africa can use this demographic dividend if we develop education systems that are capable, accessible and focused.”

“Unfortunately, our economies are unable to absorb a significant proportion of these young people, mainly because the education system is not aligned to the needs of the economy,” he added.

- African News Agency (ANA)