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The goal formulation "decent working conditions" is missing in Sweden's new Africa strategy

The government's new Africa strategy is criticized after the goal formulation of "improved conditions for productive jobs with decent working conditions, especially for women and young people" was removed. This risks having negative consequences, especially for the young population of the African continent, union voices tell the newspaper Omvärlden.  

In February, it decided the Swedish government about one new regional strategy for Sweden's development cooperation with Africa for the period 2022–2026. Shortly afterwards reported Sara Nkwe Assarsson in OmVärlden that the Africa strategy has met with widespread criticism from trade union actors. Development cooperation with Africa includes support in several areas such as the environment and climate, human rights and economic integration. The goal of the Swedish support is to strengthen the region's opportunities to meet cross-border challenges. The strategy comprises a total of SEK 4,67 billion. But a goal statement from the previous strategy of "improved conditions for productive jobs with decent working conditions, especially for women and young people" is missing. 

- Unfortunately, we must state that the strategy is a step backwards when it comes to very important issues concerning the labor market. In particular, trade union issues, including the right to decent working conditions, says Lennart Reinius, to the magazine Omvärlden. 

Union to Union has previously reported on violations of trade union rights in several countries in Africa. For example, employees in Nigeria have been fired from large multinational companies, such as Radison Blu and Volkswagen, because they went on strike for better working conditions. Insecure working conditions and underemployment are both widespread problems in Africa and causes of poverty. Although many African countries have experienced strong economic growth in recent years, about half of the people in sub-Saharan Africa live on $ 1,25 per day or less, which is the UN limit for absolute poverty. In addition, many women and young people have to support themselves in the informal economy, where they generally have little opportunity to claim their rights.  

The lack of goal formulation can make it more difficult to create productive work, he says Leif Isaksson, ombudsman at LO's international unit to Omvärlden. Especially for Africa's young growing population where many under the age of 25 do not have the opportunity to work.

That the Swedish Africa strategy would be deficient as a result of the reformulation Foreign Minister Ann Linde (S) does not think so. The Government's priorities remain and it is aware that the need for productive employment with decent working conditions is one of Africa's greatest challenges. However, the work will need to take place at national level as the previous focus at regional level has not been sufficiently successful.

- Previously, we worked within the regional Africa strategy, among other things by financing support to promote youth employment and private sector development. Evaluations showed that this regional approach provided too little added value. For a sufficiently strong result, the work must start from each country, says Ann Linde (S), Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a comment to OmVärlden. 

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