The position of youth in political activities is also very important.
“The world’s young people are a major human resource for development. Young men and women everywhere are valuable and committed partners in the global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, including the overarching goal of cutting poverty and hunger in half by 2015. Young people remain at the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS. And they bring fresh thinking to longstanding development concerns.”
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.1 Africa is the second largest continent in the world after the Asia, with 900million population living in 54 different independent countries. The total area is about 30 million square kilometers. It hosts a diverse people with different ethnicities, cultures and languages. Africa is the world’s youngest continent in the world, the youth population of Africa is higher than any other continent. According to the United Nations report, in 2010, 70 percent of the region’s population was under the age of 30, as the youth aged 15 to 24 constitute slightly more than 20 per cent of Africa’s population.2(UN Youth year report 2010-2011)
This black continent enjoys an abundant of natural resources and precious minerals, diverse of wild and domestic animals, and fertile land that suitable for agriculture and food production.
Furthermore “Africa possesses 99 percent of the world’s chrome resources, 85 percent of its platinum, 70 percent of its tantalite, 68 percent of its cobalt, and 54 percent of its gold, among others. It has significant oil and gas reserves. Nigeria and Libya are two of the leading oil
1 United Nations Secretary-General’s message to the Global Forum on Youth and ICT for Development, New York, 24 September 2007.
2 International year of youth. August, 2010-2011. Regional Overview: Youth in Africa, p.1.
producing countries in the world. Further, Africa is the home to timber, diamonds, and bauxite deposits.3(Dr Ravinder 2008)
The revenues extracted from these can provide funds for the badly needed development, but instead most African countries are poor, there is a terrible situation in many parts of Africa, some these existing problems include poverty, violence, unemployment, widespread corruption, water shortage, migration and outbreak of diseases such as Ebola, Malaria, AIDS and more. On the other hand the economy of Africa is steadily growing now, according to the World Bank latest report on Africa economic growth ‘Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to recover steadily”. In east Africa, Ethiopia will remain the highest, as government-led infrastructure investment continues. In West Africa “activity in 2018 and 2019–20 is expected to remain robust, solid growth, supported by infrastructure investment”. (World Bank 2018) 4
In every society youth are the engine of change making, they are the source of labor inputs and the human capital in productivity and development, as they are always the power for social and political developments. The future of every community depends on their youths and the way they behave, they lead to prosperity or breakdown. As I believe African youths are both breakers and makers of the continent. In reality Africa needs strong generation who lead the change in the face of challenges, to build a better, stronger Africa. Youth themselves can be a problem if not directed and educated properly. In general African youths are facing lots of challenges and problematic issues; they lack basic life necessities, like prober health care, basic education, security, access to technology, employment opportunities and lack of participation in decision making. In the following paragraphs I will briefly talk about some of the main challenges that currently youth facing, and how it affects them, and then I will explore some solutions that youths can do to better position themselves and the continent.
3 Dr Ravinder. Rena Eritrea Institute of Technology. Africa economic Analysis. http://www.africaeconomicanalysis.org/articles/gen/rich_countries.html Date Uploaded 1/23/2008. 4The World Bank in Africa. 2018. Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth is projected to reach 3.1 percent in 2018, and to average 3.6 percent in 2019–20.
http://www.worldbank.org/en/region/afr/overview Last Updated: May 14, 2018
The overall health condition of the continent is not so good. The bad habits, poor hygiene and sanitation and lack of adequate prevention and treatment are the some main causes. New and emerging diseases are rising in many countries in Africa such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola virus. HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest health issue, it cause death in Africa, especially for girls and young women. In 2007, the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS estimated that 3.2 million young people were living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another 5,000 young people were estimated to contract the virus on a daily basis through heterosexual transmission, with 78 per cent being young girls.5 Other most common diseases spread in Africa include tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, yellow fever and the outbreak of Ebola virus in 2014, the most widespread disease in history, causing major loss of life and economy in Western Africa. The ministers of finance of African union agreed that structural challenges and weak healthcare systems contribute to the high mortality rates of young people in the region.6
In this modern world education is extremely important to everyone, because it is the foundation of life. In many African countries the functional system of the education is very week, although there is an increase in school enrolment in the past twenty years, on the hand there is a regional difference in educational attainment among the African countries. For example youth in North Africa tend to be more educated than those in sub-Saharan Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa 48 million youths (ages 15-24) are illiterate7. 22% of primary aged children are not in school.8 As they are either live in countryside or can’t able to pay the school fee. The education deficit strongly affects young people with disabilities more than the others. But fortunately in last decades there are significant improvements for the primary education and decreasing the literacy in many African countries. According to the United Nations 2010 Millennium Development Goals Report, the net primary education enrolment rate in the Central, Western, Eastern and
5 International year of youth. August, 2010-2011. Fact Sheet: Youth in Africa. P.2. available https://social.un.org/youthyear/docs/youth-africa.pdf
6 (4th Joint Annual Meetings of the AU Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 28 – 29 March 2011).
7 UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Adult and Youth Literacy: National, Regional and Global Trends, 1985- 2015. June 2013.
8 United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. MDG 2014 Report: Assessing Progress in Africa Towards the Mille-nnium Development Goals.
Southern African regions combined increased from 58 percent in 1999 to 76 percent in 2008, while in North Africa, it increased from 86 percent in 1999 to 94 percent in 2008.(international youth year August. 2010-11)
Many countries in Africa are suffering from conflicts and civil war; according to Africa sun news report, around fifteen countries are currently involved in war or post war conflicts. In West Africa, the countries include Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo. In East Africa, the countries include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. In Central Africa, the countries include Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. In North Africa, the country is Algeria and in South Africa, the countries include Angola and Zimbabwe9 . This always has negative effect on youth, they are used as soldiers by armed militants, images of young men brandishing machine guns and terrorizing their communities have been seen on the screens, and they are either victims or perpetrators. Studies have shown that major reasons for involved in conflicts are that they want to politically active or to escape the poverty (IRIN 2007)10.
One of the forefront challenges in Africa is the unemployment, according to UN youth report youth unemployment rates in Malawi and Rwanda are under 5%, whereas rates reach above 20%, in Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and above 30% in Mauritius, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Algeria. And South Africa it reaches up to 60%t for young women. The main reasons for this high rate are: mismatch between the education system and the skills needed in the labor market, information gaps between job seekers and potential employers, and a mindset that tells educated young people must be employed in white-collar jobs.11
Youth’s participation on Africa national politics is limited. Young people need to take part the leadership opportunities to be able to gain experience and fulfill their potential. Recognizing their role in the society like all other people, want to be appreciated for the role that they play in society. They need viable avenues through which they can use their abilities and talents to make
9 . Africa sun news. 2018. http://www.africasunnews.com/wars.html
10 Gregory Lavender African youth as a source of hope and ingenuity: The role of the United Nations in engaging young people to help overcome poverty in Africa, p. 7.
positive contributions.12 The efforts to engage the youth in decision making participation have increased over past few years, as a result of regional, national and international efforts to push governments and those in positions of authorities to recognize the importance of youth participation in policy making.
Migration is also another challenge that is good to be mentioned here, although migration has some benefits on the other hand it has many risks including death and high costs, exploitation and abuse of women and children, Migration can encourage the spread of communicable disease as people carry viruses over long distances13. (William Shaw 2007). Migration can be internal (Africa) or external (Europe, America, Saudi Arabia etc). In 2015, the UNDESA14 estimated that 14 percent of international migrants in the world originated from the Africa, 12 percent of the international migrants in Europe. (FAO 2015). The reasons can be economic, social, political or environmental, seeking for better work, escaping from political persecution or war, or from natural disasters.15
To overcome Africa’s challenges and build stronger and better Africa we need an assertive, strong generation who are able to contribute and lead change, we need to empower our young people by increasing their ability to influence what is happening in their lives and communities. Youth must become involved in government decision making, they must be equipped with positive skills, and they must get employment opportunities. In order to build a youth driven change, that can brighten the future of Africa, I think the following steps are necessary, encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship, promoting hands on technical training education, encouraging foreign investors, increasing the awareness of the youths and including youth in decision-making.
To support young men and women pursuing a lifetime of productive work, we must focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. Entrepreneurship and life skills training programs helps prepare
12 . Kudzai Goremusandu: Enhancing Youth Political Participation for Africa’s Development. http://www.anticorruptionintl.org/news/the-role-of-young-african-leaders/.
13 ,(William Shaw 2007, Migration in Africa: A Review of the Economic Literature onInternational Migration in 10 Countries, p.3 )
14 The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
15 BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/geography/migration/migration_trends_rev2.shtml
young people for better livelihoods, it’s a growing and vibrant economy that drives job creation, expanding manufacturing capabilities, investing in high-impact sectors such as hospitality and information technology, and building up a country’s infrastructure will all help boost the creation of much needed jobs across Africa. (Bill Reese 2016).16 Youth-run enterprises (YREs) also provide valuable goods and services to society, especially the local community, and promote innovation and resilience as it encourages young people to find new solutions, ideas and ways of doing things through experience based learning.17(Francis Chigunta,Jamie Schnurr,David
James-WilsonAndVeronica Torres. 2005).
The curriculum of education in Africa must be based on the real life skills, every student must get a quality training in science and technology. In my opinion African youth are not equipped for extracting the economy from the natural resources, so I will suggest increasing and creating the technical and vocational training centers in Africa to prepare the youth for real career opportunities and benefit from the continent resources.
In order to fuel the economy growth, create more employment, do good business, create new employment opportunities for the youth and benefit from the resources, I think Africa needs potential investment in many sectors, developing the infrastructure and the economy not only adds value to a community but it helps minimize the social issues and makes life livable and enjoyable for youth. Africa’s untapped natural resources and strategic significance have encouraged foreign powers to intervene in African affairs. During the Cold War era, 1945-1990, there was increasing superpower intervention in Africa. For example United States and the Soviet Union were major players on the African scene ( Dr Ravinder 2008). Now the continent still is vital arena for strategic and geopolitical competition among the United States, France, Britain, China, India and Turkey. As the reports shows there are lots of investment opportunities
16 Bill Reese. 5 Ways to Drive Youth-Inclusive Economic Growth in Africa. https://www.iyfnet.org/blog/5- ways-drive-youth-inclusive-economic-growth-africa September 22, 2016
17 (Francis Chigunta, Jamie Schnurr, David James-Wilson And Veronica Torres. 2005). Being “Real” about Youth Entrepreneurship in Eastern and Southern Africa. Geneva, Switzerland. Printed by International Labour Organization.) in Africa, the main sectors are agriculture, industrial production, food processing, power industry, infrastructure and retail.
In my idea I think mass youth encouragement campaigns are necessary, about this social challenges issue and the role of the youth in the saving lives and building new and better Africa. By using social media I think the message can reach more and more young people. We have to give time and money in the increasing youth awareness to meet the Africa challenges and overcome them, there must be organizations that hardly work on the social and youth construction.
As the youth are valuable members of the African community their contributions in the community life are unforgettable, young people participation in public policy making provides them opportunities to influence or have ‘their say’ on issues that has an important for them. the government policies has great impact on them, it’s necessary their voice to be heard in the public decision making, the youth must take part in the parliaments, cabinets and other decision making bodies.
In conclusion Africa is the world’s second largest and youngest population in the world. The youth population of Africa is higher than any other continent, in 2010 they are estimated to be around 70 percent of the entire people. Africa has diverse economic resources, and youth power capital. However Africa faces greatest economic and social challenges of our time. As young people are the shapers of the future of every community in the world, African youths are not exception. Unfortunately in many parts of Africa young people can’t able to get the basic life necessities, like prober health care, basic education, security, access to technology, employment opportunities. In order to overcome the poverty and build stronger Africa, we need to empower young people to increase their ability to influence what is happening to their lives and their community, we have to equip our youth with the skills of change making and creativity, we must give them action based learning and increase their awareness, also the governments of our time must encourage the investment of Africa’s recourses and have strategies and policy for attracting foreign investors. I think proper management and policies in place Africa can become the most powerful continent in the world. Africa I wish you better future and more powerful youth.
African Union. 2006. African Youth Charter. Adopted by the Seventh Ordinary Session of the Assembly, Banjul, Gambia, July 2.
Bill Reese. 5 Ways to Drive Youth-Inclusive Economic Growth in Africa. https://www.iyfnet.org/blog/5- ways-drive-youth-inclusive-economic-growth-africa . September 22, 2016
Dr Ravinder Rena . Eritrea Institute of Technolog. Rich countries and their leverage on Africa. http://www.africaeconomicanalysis.org/articles/gen/rich_countries.html Date Uploaded 1/23/2008.
Fantu Cheru and Cyril Obi. The rise of China and India in Africa. Challenges, opportunities and critical interventions. Printed by Zed Books. London | New York. 2010.
Francis Chigunta,Jamie Schnurr,David James-WilsonAndVeronica Torres. 2005. Being “Real” about Youth Entrepreneurship in Eastern and Southern Africa. Geneva, Switzerland. Printed by International Labour Organization.
International year of youth Agust 2010-2011 report, Regional overview: Youth in Africa.
International year of youth. August, 2010-2011. Fact Sheet: Youth in Africa. Available https://social.un.org/youthyear/docs/youth-africa.pdf
Gregory Lavender. African youth as a source of hope and ingenuity: The role of the United Nations in engaging young people to help overcome poverty in Africa Available at: http://archive.unu.edu/esmf/25th/Lavender.pdf
Kwabena Gyimah-Brempong and Mwangi S. Kimenyi. Youth Policy and the future of African development. Working Paper 9 | April 2013.
Mahad Wasuge. Youth migration in Somalia. Causes, consequences and possible remedies. Published in 2018 by the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, Mogadishu, Somalia.
Mmanti Umoh. African Youth, The Solution To Africa’s Challenges. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mmanti-umoh/african-youth-the-solution_b_9083530.html . 02/05/2016 .
United nations. 2010. The Millennium Development Goals Report. New York, America. Available at: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG%20Report%202010%20En%20r15%20- low%20res%2020100615%20-.pdf
William Shaw. Development Prospects Group. The World Bank. Washington DC 20433. 2007. Migration in Africa: A Review of the Economic Literature on International Migration in 10 Countries.
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