Finding the ‘opportunity space’ for young people and rural jobs

Ghana-villageOver the last decade, both agriculture and young people have become increasingly prominent on African development agendas. Many have concluded that engagement in production agriculture is an obvious (if not the obvious) opportunity through which to address the problem of limited economic opportunity for young people in rural areas.

According to a new article by James Sumberg and Christine Okali, entrepreneurship-based policy and programmes to address the jobs challenge facing young people in rural Africa need to be much more firmly grounded in evidence and analysis. These are the conclusions of the article, Young People, Agriculture, and Transformation in Rural Africa: An “Opportunity Space” Approach (pdf), published in Innovations Journal.

The authors argue that, in terms of expectations, design and implementation, such programmes must take explicit account of the highly diverse and changing rural and social realities within which young people both find themselves and help to fashion. Sumberg and Okali develop this argument through an exploration of the notion of “opportunity space”, and demonstrate the benefit of putting an appreciation of social difference and social relations at centre stage.

The article appears in a special issue of Innovations journal, launched at the 2013 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference this week in Washington D.C. James Sumberg is among the speakers in a session entitled What do Young People and Rural Development Have to Offer Each Other?

About Innovations Journal

The special issue on Youth and Economic Opportunities appears in Innovations Journal, a publication of MIT Press and George Mason University. The journal, made possible with support from Making Cents International and Citi Foundation, aims to engage a global network of partners to galvanize dialog, collaboration, and knowledge-building toward a collective global agenda for youth. This collection of analyses, research, and remarkable stories connects disparate concepts, innovations, theories, stories, and research that moves the youth economic opportunities agenda forward.

Photo: Young girl outside village Ghana by World Bank on Flickr