5 facts about child labour in Africa

One-fifth of all African children are involved in child labour. 

According to the 2016 Global Estimates of Child Labour, that’s more than twice as high as in any other region, with 72.1 million African children estimated to be in child labour and 31.5 million in hazardous work.

Here are five fast facts on child labour in Africa:

  1. Agriculture is the most affected sector

In Africa, agriculture accounts for 85% of all child labour, with a total of 61.4 million children.

  1. Young children are more likely to be involved

The age breakdown of children in child labour in Africa is much younger than anywhere else, with 59% of child labourers aged 5 to 11, 26% aged 12 to 14, and 15% aged 15 to 17.

  1. Children are often employed by their families

The majority of child labour is unpaid because most children are not in an employment relationship with a third party employer. Instead, they usually work on family farms and family enterprises.

  1. Progress against child labour appears to have stalled in Africa

In contrast to ongoing global progress and despite targeted policies, between 2012 and 2016, child labour increased in Sub-Saharan Africa. The region has been strongly affected by situations of state fragility and crisis, which could explain, together with broader economic and demographic forces acting against government efforts, the rise in child labour.

  1. 11 African countries have joined the movement to end child labour

11 countries in Africa – Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Uganda – have identified as Pathfinder Countries under Alliance 8.7.

The ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour was the first-ever international labour standard to achieve universal ratification. This is of great importance for children in Africa and worldwide, as it indicates a global consensus and effort against those forms of child labour that are an affront to our common values.

Since you’ve read this far, did you know that 2021 is the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour? 

Take action to help children. Submit your 2021 Action Pledge today.