"Economic growth that does not create decent jobs in sufficient quantities is unsustainable," said Mukhisa Kituyi, head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development. (Agencies)
In its tri-annual review of the world's least developed countries, or LDCs, UNCTAD said that the 49 countries on its list had jointly seen strong economic growth over the past decade, but that there were too few decent jobs to show for it.
This is a problem, since these countries, including 34 in Africa, are set to see their already youthful populations double to 1.7 billion by 2050, with an estimated 16 million people forecast to join their labour markets each year until then.
LDCs saw their economies swell on average 7.5 percent per year from 2002 to 2008, but even then, the rate of job creation was only 2.9 percent, with some of the most rapidly growing economies actually seeing their employment rate shrink.
In Africa's second largest oil exporter, Angola, the per capita gross domestic product skyrocket nearly 92 percent during the period, while employment sank 2.3 percent.
Angola is a good example of how many LDCs have focused too narrowly on capital-intense but job-poor sectors like mineral extraction, Kituyi told reporters in Geneva, urging such countries to dramatically shift their growth and investment models.
Oil accounts for nearly 97 percent of Angolan exports, driving the GDP per capita up to around USD 10,000 and making Luanda the world's most expensive city for expats, even as the official unemployment rate stands at 30 percent.
"Economic growth that does not create decent jobs in sufficient quantities is unsustainable," said Mukhisa Kituyi, head of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.