The African Regional Office of the ILO took stock of its activities, at an exchange meeting in Geneva

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On Tuesday 13 June, the African Regional Office of the International Labour Organization (ILO) convened an exchange meeting in Geneva as a side event to the 111th session of the International Labour Conference. The purpose of this meeting, convened by the Regional Director of the ILO Africa Office and her deputy, was to provide representatives of African governments, workers and employers with a briefing on the various activities carried out by the Office over the last four years.

ILO Africa’s key priorities for action, and more specifically the mandate of Ms Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon’s team, were inspired by the people-centred approach to the future of work and supported by the Abidjan Declaration: "Realising the potential for a future of work with social justice" The declaration was adopted at the 14th ILO Regional Meeting for Africa in Abidjan in December 2019, marking the 60th anniversary of the ILO’s presence on the African continent. It is worth noting that the African continent had social justice at the heart of its priorities long before it became a global priority.

The Regional Director presented the main achievements of the ILO in Africa over the past four years. These were organised around five key priority areas:

1. Making decent work and productive employment a reality for Africa’s youth: The emphasis of the ILO Africa has been on creating decent and productive jobs for the youth, recognising their potential as the engine of economic growth and sustainable development in Africa. The recent Kigali Declaration further strengthens the organisation’s actions in this respect.

2. Enhancing skills, technological development and productivity for a brighter future of work in Africa: Capacity-building, embracing innovative technologies and improving productivity have been identified as essential tools for ensuring a prosperous future of work in Africa.

3. Transforming Africa’s rural and informal economies to make decent work a reality: The emphasis of the ILO Africa has been on the formalisation of the informal economy in Africa, with the aim of creating enabling conditions for decent work and social protection for rural workers.

4. Adhering to international labour standards, promoting social dialogue and achieving gender equality: ILO Africa has been active in promoting compliance with international labour standards, encouraging social dialogue between stakeholders and fighting for gender equality in the labour market.

5. Strengthening of synergies between the ILO and African institutions, in particular the African Union Commission: ILO Africa has sought to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the ILO and African institutions, in particular the African Union Commission, to promote concerted action in favour of decent work and social justice in Africa.

Despite the challenges facing the African region, the assessment presented at this exchange meeting was generally positive and well received by the participants. This is a testament to the ILO’s efforts in Africa to promote decent work, strengthen the capacities of African workers and promote inclusive and sustainable economic development on the continent.

The meeting was also the last for Ms Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon as ILO Regional Director for Africa. She has been promoted to ILO Representative to the United Nations and will soon take up her post in New York. However, she assured her colleagues that she would always do her best to advance the cause of the African continent, which is so dear to her heart.
"Wherever I may be, Africa will continue to be my priority," she declared.

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