The power to change the current situation regarding the continent’s population, lies with YOUTH.
According to a collective definition agreed on by a majority of African states, ‘’a youth is anyone between the ages of 15-35 years, without prejudice to other definition member states.’’
Like numerous nations on the African continent, Zambia’s most populous demographic is comprised of individuals between the prior stated age group. Statistically, this means that the youth are the majority stakeholders of a nation and via their involvement or lack-of; they often play a central role in actively or unknowingly propelling their country into national development or regression.
Strong youth make a strong nation for various reasons, but primarily because, their consistent individual or joint efforts will produce more of an impact on their country than those of any other demographic; being that they are the most populous in quantity. Hence, their every action, especially when collective will thoroughly be felt and reverberate throughout the borders of their society. Consequently, when these efforts are directed positively, they hold the potential of creating prosperity and growth within communities, influencing core factors of their environments; and eventually strengthening a nation.
In today’s contemporary world, research illustrates that a majority of ‘start-ups’ in the business domain, are initiated by the youth; significantly so in Africa. The youth now serve a focal point in not only creating jobs but eradicating unemployment, and the mind-set of dependence on the government and transnational communities, such as ‘USAID’ or the ‘International Monetary Fund’ for financial assistance, grants and donations.
In the same disposition, an increasing number of numerous NGO’s and philanthropic activities, with a focus on social and medical causes; are being instigated by more youth, to raise awareness and funding for illnesses and other major difficulties that affect their communities. These endeavours are undertaken by the youth in efforts to combat difficulties in their community and further prosper their country. From this perception, we can see that more youth are becoming active participants in lessening government dependence on international organizations for humanitarian aid and philanthropy; by taking a step to actively assist disadvantaged and underserved groups in their very own communities.
We can see that when the actions of the youth are positively integrated and well translated into action; they do aid in better constructing a strong nation.
It has been estimated that the average country loses approximately $20 million USD, per annum to the construction, maintenance of jailhouses and correctional facilities, and the management of the inmates therein. The majority of people incarcerated are the youth; predominantly between the ages of 16-22 years of age. This translates into catastrophic losses for governments, not only in monetary terms but as various social and economic costs, such as, the influx in crime, loss of stable man power to work in projects both in the public and private sector, and of course illiteracy is stimulated as very few inmates have the opportunity to initiate or continue their education whilst in prison.
The above examples, illustrate that negative actions by the youth hold the potential to derail a nation’s development and further weaken it, so if unruly youth can make a nation weaker; in reverse, dynamic and productive youth, just like other illustrations have presented, can make it stronger.
AFRICA IS A CONTINENT FULL OF COUNTRIES FOUNDED ON THE STRENGTH OF THE YOUTH.
Often times, the youth are the channel through which a world created by their predecessors is preserved not only for longevity but if necessary, permanency. They bear the privilege and responsibility of carrying the blessings they have received, into the future and passing it into imminent generations, while doing away with negative traditions and deleterious societal practices.
Strong youth make a Strong Nation because they are tireless in working towards the creation and conception of ideals and goals that will enhance the various states of their country and in doing so will eventually catapult it to development.
Strong youth are often resilient in the face of trials and tribulations; and make recuperation from failures a core priority, ensuring that they triumph and continue to persevere amidst conflicts and challenges until they accomplish their goal.
Strong youth do not easily accept defeat.
To quote world renowned American president, John F. Kennedy, who was himself still a youth when he became recipient of a prestigious literary award for a book he authored, ‘profiles in courage’, in 1957.
‘’Do not pray for easier lives, pray to be stronger men.’’
The African continent and its many country’s histories narrate a tale of the significance of the strength of youth.
Many African Freedom fighters, and later preliminary presidents, were themselves youth when they accomplished the immense feat of winning Independence for their countries against the better developed world powers, their colonizers who were well-armed with weapons, a treasure trove of monetary resources, and artillery filled with tremendous state of the art killing machinery.
The tale of Independence in many African countries which is so very dear to my heart illustrates the positive impact that strong youth can have not only on an entire country, or continent but the world. Strong youth when given the platform to materialize their positive ideals can change the course of history and create a better future for themselves, their countrymen and ultimately their nation as a whole.
This modification, when positive can be so tremendous it can alter the perception of the global community, change belief systems; i.e. pre- sovereignty, a multitude of people around the world, specifically citizens of world powers felt the Africans were unfit to rule themselves or the abundant mineral and natural resources inherent to their continent; and hence, did not deserve Independence.
The rising up of strong youths all around the continent to defend their right to freedom, ultimately dismantled those prejudiced beliefs; and in conquering their opposition, these strong youths further established a fairer and inclusive world in which every human being is accepted as equal.
Strong youths not only make a strong nation; they are in fact the backbone on which a strong nation is often founded, and continually prevails on.
PART II: POPULATION CONTROL, AND WHAT IT CAN LEARN FROM CHINA.
Africa’s growing POPULATION: A brief study
A stepping stone or barricade?
As of 2018, with an estimated population of 1.2 billion people, and a projected increase to 2.5 billion by 2030. Africans are by far one of the world’s most reproductive people. However a reproductive people does not always translate to productive people. As prior explained in the introduction of the essay, over 35% of Africans are unemployed, unskilled and uneducated meaning it is often challenging for them to find stable jobs that offer a secure and steady income, those of whom do find a job usually end up working part-time and are habitually employed in the trivial and low-income work.
Building a better nation takes into perspective doing what is best for the nation, it’s people and safeguarding the positivity of one’s present condition and ensuring its sustainability into the future.
This is exactly what the government of the People’s Republic of China did for its citizens when it passed the ‘One Child per family Policy’ in 1979. This was a policy that stated that all citizens were obligated by law to obtain a birth certificate before the birth of their children. The citizens who adhered to the policy were often rewarded with special benefits by their government, those who did not were taxed on things such as their income, property, goods and services.
During China’s golden economic era, circa 1970’s to 80’s, about the time in which the country had just started to experience an economic boom and was now competing with time-honoured world powers such as the USA, Russia and Germany who for centuries had led the torch in the technological manufacturing and food processing industries; it was blazing a trail that had previously been untrodden by other East-Asian countries.
The Chinese government was very much aware of the positivity or impediments population can have on economic growth, especially if left unattended to. Thinking proactively, they quickly set in place measures that would enable their country to take the best possible advantage of their economic rise. In relation to their high population, this meant devising innovative ways to curb it.
The relation between a country’s economic growth and its population, is one that oft times and very unfortunately so, is never taken into inquisitive regard on a wider scope.
Despite this lack of interest, population of a country is something that will inevitably impact almost every area of its existence.
SO WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH THE YOUTH
According to a statistical study undertaken by the United Nations, over half of Africa’s populace is dominated by the prior mentioned demographic, the youth. Africa whose collective population makes up 16% of the total world population. A report by the UN illustrates that Africa is projected to grow by an additional 1.3 billion people, making the overall population 2.2 billion in only a space of 32 years, by 2050. Africa has long been tipped as a potential fastest growing continent in the world, with an ever- increasing proclivity to someday make up for over half of the world’s population.
Fastest growing in terms of population and not economy is observed to be a positive thing, for various reasons that will be discussed in detail as the essay proceeds.
African youth as was mentioned in the first half of the essay are the channel and medium through which the traditions and principles practiced by their predecessors will either be preserved or discontinued. They stand at an extremely decisive factor in every generation. Unproductive overpopulation amongst the very poor on the African continent can be stopped with the baptizing of Africa’s largest demographic in a doctrine of the importance of ‘family planning’ and the preaching’s of all the positive benefits it can have on them, not only as individuals but members of a collective community.
According to the internationally acclaimed and recognized ‘World Health Organization’; a majority of Africa’s populace earn and live on less than $1 per day. This was an estimation that was observed in the late 1980’s but continues to prevail today. Also, in alignment, a report by the same organization also concludes that a majority of Africans live under the line of abject poverty.
When population rates increase; courtesy of the poor reproducing, and no significant constructive change pertaining to their social- economic status has been established, this designates that the prior mentioned consequences of poverty in a country, community or even continent as a whole are only bound to multiply. This means a majority of Africans daily partake in Unproductive Labour.
Labour that accomplishes very little in advancing their national development. Their daily efforts towards earning a living don’t contribute directly to the strengthening of their countries’ economies, but are usually just enough to cover their most necessary day-to-day expenses.
In comparison to its smaller and less populous European
counterparts, Africa’s population has contributed very poorly to its development. Of course, if the proper measures are put in place, development schemes focused fundamentally on industrialization, a core component of any country’s conversion from less economically developed to economically progressive; the mobilizing of the many populous people in most African countries would actually turn out to be quite convenient. Let’s not forget that during the turn of the industrial revolution in Europe many people were needed to ride the wave of economic opportunity. A significant amount of the labour that eventually played a predominant role in catapulting many European states to financial sovereignty were pilfered from Africa.
So, at this interlude in the continent’s economic journey, my conclusion is that Africa’s high rate of population is more destructive than it is constructive. When the point in time comes that Africa is at the brink of a colossal economic revolution, then the continent’s high fertility rates, will definitely be an asset and cease to be a liability.
The ability to reproduce rapidly and over a short period of time in human beings, isn’t by itself an unscrupulous quality.
In fact, it’s been scientifically proven to be a signal of good health. Fertile potency in both members of the human gender, especially the extensive sort has actually been noted as one of the major traits of human attractiveness, both physiologically and psychologically; indicating virility in males and sensuality in females.
Having said that, it converts into a huge problem and becomes a detractor towards the quality of daily life when resources are scarce, and alternatives limited, as is the case in most African nations and the people are numerous.
When there are very little alternatives within the legal frame work for one to meet their needs, let alone their wants, people are forced to create loopholes in the system that are not only typically illegal but also unfavourable towards the development of their communities initially, and subsequently their country and continent as whole.
WHY IS HIGH POPULATION AMONG THE POOR DETRIMENTAL TO ECONOMIC GROWTH
These effects serve almost impeccably in continuing the cycle of collective poverty in alignment with what we will term
‘Micro-agents of poverty™’:
Micro-agents of poverty can be defined as “the causes of poverty whose factors are rarely seen as instrumental to the overall manifestation of the circumstance and its effects on the economy of a nation; but however do contribute in subtle and usually continuous ways to the creation of long-term poverty within a family, community or a people.” One of the traditional features of the poverty birthed from M.A is that it usually becomes generational, bordering on hereditary as it can be challenging to break out of. With families usually passing it down to their lineage. As usually is the case, one might have inherited it from their parents, and will pass it down to their children, who might then pass it down to their children’s’ children. Notorious for being almost invisible to the undiscerning eye, the type of poverty birthed from M.A is dangerous as it contributes massively to the unequal distribution of wealth within a country or region. People who are not only uneducated, but hail from a family whose exposure to and perception of the world has been limited by the poverty that so infiltrated their lives growing up, will seldom know how to make use of the opportunities around them, or materialize the ideas they may have to create wealth or a sustainable source of income, as someone who is educated or, comes from a middle- upper income class family would.
This ignorance and limited-view of the world by these groups of people rather than a conspiracy among the upper crust of their countries is what has kept the poor in their financial state for decades.
These groups of people today are what manifest in the social hierarchy in the form of the: underprivileged, and lower- class people.
Because of their backgrounds their fate usually turns out in these two ways;
I.They will either turn out to be the criminals whose endeavours will undermine a sizeable amount of efforts made by their governments and goodwill ambassadors to manifest national prosperity. Becoming themselves, in one way or the other ‘micro- agents of poverty’.
II.They will be the most financially burdensome populace for their governments, whose revenue will have to be reserved for their general (and usually unfortunate) upkeep; usually in the form of social welfare, charities, rehabilitation centres, and social institutions of the like.
Immense population + scarce resources = multiple poverty enhancing factors: such as crime, diseases, unemployment.
As of right now, Africa’s high population rates are more of a hamper to its economic sufficiency, than they are a springboard.
Especially since, as we noted earlier a vast majority of the continent’s civilian are rarely involved in productive labour which has a direct link to the country’s increase in GDP. 16/20 of the world’s countries with the highest growth rate, an estimated population of 1.1 billion, 400 million are under 15.
Defined as ‘the number of people whose daily work eventually contributes massively and directly to the economic development of a country.’
Over 65% of African entrepreneurs operate kiosk-like businesses, which are not only in the country’s economic sense trivial, have neither tangible effect or direct link to a country’s GDP; but are unregistered and also incapable of providing them and their families with a secure income, as everyday profits fluctuate subjugating many to live below the line of abject poverty.
This is sad as one research has shown that over 45% of the African adult does not have enough or does not produce enough to cater for himself as individuals let alone a spouse and children.
Many Africans and their local/communal leaders treat family planning and contraception methods with a high degree of both suspicion and apprehension.
Use is optional and rarely encouraged by local governing authorities. Negative myths and superstitions concerning the practice prevail, especially in villages and rural communities where a significantly large proportion of the high birth rates are emanating from.
According to one research 63% of the multiple pregnancies experienced in Africa are unplanned and prevalent even among adult married couples. Over half of these sexual casualties are unwanted and perversely popular amongst young unmarried girls and women below the age of 20. Most of the people that constitute this statistic aren’t financially independent or educated. As one study by ‘Investopedia’ illustrates; on the average, a person’s earning capacity is projected from their parent’s earnings. If this is true to some extent then about 25% of Africa’s population current and upcoming are and will live in a perpetual cycle of hard-core poverty, where the following disadvantages will be their lifelong companions.
It is one thing to be born into a poor-income family or household, especially when projection of their financial situation improving based on the following three strong indicators is bleak:
III.Influential social net worth, network and contacts
It is likely that the birthed in poverty specimen will also have to endure being raised in poverty; it is however another problem, when that birth is not only unplanned for but as is in many cases with unexpected pregnancies in many African nations and developing countries elsewhere, amongst the youth: unwanted.
Not many African governments and African people for that matter take time to reflect and analyse on the more serious problems that evolve from the high rates of both unplanned and unwanted pregnancies occurring on the continent usually amongst the most meagrely financially endowed.
REWARDS are a far greater INCENTIVE than punishments:
When the Chinese government implemented the ‘one child policy’, it ensured that it set in place, incentives that would encourage many of its citizens to willingly oblige to the new national rules. Some of these incentives included free education from kindergarten up to tertiary level.
In the fight against unproductive high rates of population in their countries African governments should implement the example set by the People’s Republic of China, as it is a tried and tested experiment that seemed to have worked tremendously well for them and ushered them into a brighter future.
Most Africans see nothing wrong with their large scale baby- producing ways, and in a hasty quantity of time for that matter, as they feel that it is none of anyone’s concern. True, it’s one’s business how often one chooses to become a parent, given that they have the means to take care of each one of their children.
However, when this habit, begins to impose on the wellbeing of others in an environment where resources are always indirectly shared, and creates the problems listed above. It becomes the concern of everyone involved, it steadily has a rather negative effect on the wider society.
As was stated in the first segment of the book, the statistic of the population who are not monetarily capable of fending for themselves, automatically become the government’s responsibility, and simultaneously hold the potential of becoming perpetuators of micro-agents of poverty in their nations.
Part of the taxes, imposed on the income of hardworking citizens will be unnecessarily utilized to cater for the needs of the poor through social welfare programs, government funded charity centred institutions and the like. These people become a burden that gradually eradicate at a lot of progress made by their better educated and better-bred counterparts, in the communal realm.
The reason many Africans are living under the line of abject poverty has a direct link to the numerous annual childbirths experienced in the continent by its poorest.
Overpopulation in Africa which is home to one of the world’s 6 most populous countries has been among the factors that has made a steady rise to economic sovereignty a difficult one. Even if a country’s GDP rises, the social costs and expenses it will still have to cover, courtesy of social welfare for its ever growing underprivileged class will eventually serve to undermine and hamper its growth, and continually create loopholes through which a disequilibrium in development is always present. Africa, as a whole may not be ready to cater to the ever increasing demand for providing basic resources to an ever growing majorly poor population who for the most part are because of their circumstances in alignment with micro agent of poverty unable to secure their own day-to-day needs.
Taking a note out of The People’s Republic of China and instilling effective birth control measures, as well as rewards for adhering to the rules, would serve many of the continent’s countries extremely well.
African youths, if they so choose can instil measures that will enable them to create a new mind set about population in their country where the future generation’s government will not have to endure a large populous segment of underprivileged amongst them, of whom they constantly have to keep financially afloat and even more importantly, no child will have to be born or grow in poor circumstances. The youth are significant in this equilibrium because the power to change the current situation regarding the continent’s population, lies with them.i
For more information on:
John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Literary Award see http://www.dailyjfk.com/days/june-19-1917/
China’s ‘one child policy’ see: http://en.m.wikipedia.org>wiki>
China’s rapid industrial rise see: https://research.stlouisfed.org/wp/more/2015-006 Africa’s growing population: http://www.theguardian.com
A country’s economy in relational link to its population and GDP: https://www.un.org>desa>dpad Africa’s Economic Outlook and State: https://www.afdb.org
I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to GOD, for HIS Love and Support.
My names are Canaan Kaweche Banda, I am a 19 year old Zambian who has a passion for literary works that revolve around political, philosophical and social themes; especially of they are specifically focused on national and global works, youth empowerment and business initiatives and programs that can positively alter the world.
Thank you Keenista for having granted me the privilege to share my God-given dreams about my continent with you.
I sincerely hope to be one of the people who impacts the world positively; and while doing so further establish Africa positively on the global map.
I can honestly say to the best of my knowledge that this work is solely mine, and is original, not copied or plagiarized from any other literary works, in any form or manner.
Canaan Kaweche Banda
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