Drivers, Challenges and Opportunities for Job Creation in the Sahel

15th October 2018
Author: Evert-jan Quak

This review synthesises the literature from academic, policy and institutions sources on the drivers of job creation in the Sahel countries Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The report first shows a baseline on employment in the five Sahel countries. A more detailed look at the economic sectors in the Sahel countries shows that the food economy and the non-food agricultural sector (mainly cotton) are the main providers for jobs. The share of employment in the food economy (on-farm and off-farm) compared to total employment are the highest for all West-African countries, with rates higher than 80% of total employment, with only Mauritania below the West-African average with 52%. With the exception of Mauritania, the share of food economy employment in the total rural employment for the Sahel is the highest for the West African region (with Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso all well above 90%). The literature shows that the drivers of more formal and productive jobs in the Sahel could be trade openness, industrial clusters linking up with inclusive value chains, green economy, entrepreneurship linking up to innovation and skills to markets and investments. However, these drivers will not generate jobs automatically. They need good governance, good (investment) management skills in public and private sector, and human security and conflict prevention to guarantee stability. Finally, the review identified key challenges to the job creation in Sahel: demography, security and skills gap. These challenges can be solved if the government can manage the following opportunities for their advantage: urbanisation, remittances, advancements in food system thinking and spending productively public revenues from extractive sector.

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Suggested Citation

Quak, E. (2018). Drivers, Challenges and Opportunities for Job Creation in the Sahel. K4D Helpdesk Report 455. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies


15th October 2018


Continent: Africa

Country: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania