Jhe youth population in Africa can be the game-changer the continent needs to overcome the myriad problems it faces. Unfortunately, it can also be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode if there are no plans to harness and unfold its potential.
Representing 60% of the continent’s 1.415 billion inhabitants, according to the latest United Nations estimates, young people indeed hold the key to Africa’s future.
Regrettably, however, available statistics show that around 60% of Africa’s youth population, which is estimated at 650 million, is unemployed or underemployed.
Young Africans are best known for the tragedies of Mediterranean boat crashes as they attempted to cross to Europe in search of greener pastures. Those who stay at home face unemployment, drug addiction, violence, rituals and other unhealthy activities. They also see no hope for the future as they are excluded from activities that would improve their lives.
Many African governments have weak or non-existent plans for their young people in areas such as education, entrepreneurship, agriculture, science and technology, which many other parts of the world are harnessing to launch themselves into a future. better.
Unfortunately, the continent’s political terrain is still dominated by the older generation. Many countries have made no specific effort to ensure the inclusion of young people in governance. This is an apparent violation of the African Youth Charter, which enjoins Member States to ensure youth participation in parliament and decision-making bodies in accordance with prescribed laws.
The charter also urges states to “provide access to information so that young people are aware of their rights and opportunities to participate in decision-making”.
It is unfortunate that with the exception of countries like Nigeria, where the Not Too Young to Rule Act was designed to ensure greater youth participation in politics, young people in many other African countries are still excluded from politics and decision-making mechanisms.
Indeed, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, made this clear in his message on the occasion of African Youth Day, celebrated on November 1, calling for greater inclusion of young people in decision-making processes in the Member States.
“The African Youth Charter provides us with an arsenal of normative elements that illuminate the way forward, in terms of youth participation and inclusion. To this end, it not only strongly reaffirms the need for such inclusion, but also and above all, it specifies the obligations of the various actors, namely the States, the African Union Commission, and the young people themselves. .
“Our ardent wish is that this trilogy operates in a synergy of understanding, action and evaluation in order to build a true symphony that resonates as an ode to the Africa we want,” he said.
It is the conviction of this document that young people have a leading role to play in achieving this and other initiatives to improve their lives. African youth must reinvent themselves and take their destiny into their own hands.
They should refrain from engaging in frivolous and criminal activities to which they are more easily identifiable.
We also believe that African leaders have a greater role to play in changing the destiny of the continent by ensuring that its youth populations are productive agents of change.
They should ensure youth participation in governance, especially in areas that directly affect them. They must initiate or strengthen programs that will unleash the potential of the younger generation and make them more useful to society.
African leaders must come together to further strengthen programs that would bring together young people from different parts of the continent to share notes and exchange ideas. They should launch student exchange programs between African universities to help young people meet and build lasting relationships across the continent.
In addition, intercontinental organizations like the African Development Bank should set up funding programs designed to bring together young people in Africa to create start-ups in technology, sports, hospitality and other fields. .
Thanks to this, the young people of the continent would have a better understanding of the problems they are facing and could even propose solutions.
We believe it is time to revive and strengthen cultural and sporting activities on the continent, not only as a way to engage our young people but also as a way to unlock their potential and foster a better understanding of the continent.
It is time for Africa, and its leaders in particular, to realize that the continent holds the key to a prosperous world if only we effectively utilize the potential of our youth. Africa must therefore stop the migration of its youth to other continents.
Failure to do so will only plunge the continent further into more trouble. Africa has more than enough potential in its youth to take it forward, and this should be fully exploited.