GENEVA (Reuters) - The loss of African workers to the AIDS
epidemic is set to be far worse than predicted even six months
ago, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Friday.
Already the leading cause of death in Africa, AIDS will cause
declines of 25 to 35 percent in the workforces of several
countries in the next two decades, the United Nations labor
"Africa today is losing its prime labor force to HIV/AIDS," ILO
said in a study issued on World AIDS Day, "HIV/AIDS in Africa:
The impact on the world of work."
Five countries are projected to lose a quarter to a third of
their workers by 2020: Botswana (-30.8 pct), Mozambique
(-24.9), Namibia (-35.1 pct), South Africa (-24.9) and Zimbabwe
Kenya (-20.2 pct), Malawi (-16 pct), Uganda (-15.8 pct),
Tanzania (-14.6 pct), Central African Republic (-14.4 pct) and
Ivory Coast (-12.8 pct) follow, ILO said.
The ILO study of the 29 most AIDS-stricken African countries
showed "significantly sharper declines" in their workforces due
to AIDS than its study last June which projected declines of 3
to 20 percent in 12 African countries.
Migrant workers in agriculture, construction and tourism, as
well as miners, transport workers, security personnel, teachers
and health care workers were at special risk from HIV and AIDS.
"The concern is not only with the size of the labor force but
also its quality," ILO said.
"Many of those infected are experienced and skilled workers in
both blue-collar and white-collar jobs. The loss of these
workers, together with the entry into the labor market of
orphaned children who have to support themselves, is likely to
lower both the average age of many workforces and their average
level of skills and experience."
By 2020, the population of the 29 countries will be about nine
per cent smaller than without AIDS, but the workforce will be
more than 12 percent smaller, according to ILO.
There are 25.3 million Africans living with HIV or AIDS out of
36.1 million cases worldwide, according to a UNAIDS report
issued this week. More than 15 million Africans have died of
AIDS-related diseases out of 20 million global deaths to date.