Child labor rises for the first time in Africa in 20 years

According to the organization Amnesty International, 40,000 children work in the mines in the south-east of the DRC.

© RFI / Denise Mahého

Text by: RFI Follow

3 min

For the first time in 20 years, child labor is on the rise in the world and in Africa.

This is indicated by a report from the ILO, the International Labor Organization and Unicef.

At the start of 2020, 160 million children were forced to work.

92 million in Africa.

The situation on the continent is all the more to be watched as the post-Covid economic crisis is expected to further increase this figure. 


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In Africa, almost one in five children works, compared to an average of one in ten in the rest of the world. A total of 92 million African children between the ages of 5 and 17 have an activity and therefore cannot go to school. We are far from the figures of the early 2000s and enormous progress has been made, especially in Africa. But

the trend is on the rise.

Both because of population growth and the post-Covid economic crisis. Unicef ​​and the ILO anticipate for this year and for 2022 several million additional African children at work. 

The sectors most concerned are primarily agriculture.

70% of the children who work do so in the fields, and 80% of them work with their parents on the family farm.

Next come the mining, quarrying and finally industry sectors.

The hardship and especially the dangerousness increases.

41 million children in Africa do hazardous work, estimates the ILO. 

The policies in place are struggling to prove their worth

Policies to curb child labor put in place by some African countries are working, but only partially. For example, Côte d'Ivoire is in its third national plan to combat child labor. If in fifteen years the number of miners in the plantations has fallen from around 1.3 million to only 800,000, there is still a long way to go before eradicating the scourge.

In the DRC, an estimated

40,000 children work in mines in the east of the country.

We hear many politicians denounce the phenomenon.

We see Unicef ​​or even the African Development Bank financing programs.

This is working, but today they risk being called into question by the increase in poverty which pushes families to employ the youngest. 


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  • Africa

  • Employment and Work

  • Rights of the child