Give Africa’s youth voice to determine the future

Climate change has exacerbated existing global inequalities.

AFRICA’S most valuable resource is its youth, who are full of energy, creativity, and resilience. The 21st century could usher in an African Renaissance if the continent and development partners prioritise investing into youths.

One of the best ways to eradicate poverty in Africa is to place the empowerment of its youths at the heart of all development.

Africa’s youth population has been increasing at a faster pace than before, and is projected to rise to over 830 million by 2050, according to the African Development Bank.

This rise in the continent’s working-age population might enable higher productivity and greater, more inclusive economic growth if it is effectively utilised.

Africa, dubbed the “dark continent”, continues to fall short of meeting its people’s needs. This weakness is particularly glaring in its youth population.

The plethora of threats confronting African nations demand rapid solutions and the pooling of ideas in order to construct a comprehensive and final response.

Africans, as a whole, must speak out against terrorism and xenophobia.

These constitute a significant and long-term threat to Africa’s development.

Terrorist and xenophobic organisations work hard to promote fear and intimidation across regions. They utilise violence to publicise their causes, excite those who support them and scare those who do not.

Africa’s development and security is under threat. As such, it cannot afford to deny economic prospects to young people.

The majority of African youths lack stable economic opportunities.

One-third of Africa’s nearly 420 million youths, aged between 15 and 35, are unemployed or discouraged. Another third is vulnerably employed, while only one in six works for a living.

Youth unemployment is roughly double that of adults, with significant differences across countries. Underemployment, which affects slightly more than half of young people in low-income countries, is a problem.

This is in addition to unemployment.

It is odd that Africa, which is commonly referred to as the “youngest continent” due to the average age of its population — about 20 years — has the world’s oldest leaders.

Ten of Africa’s political leaders are beyond the age of 75, with the average age of an African president being 62 years old.

While 10 million to 12 million young people enter the labour force each year, only 3,1 million jobs are created, leaving a large number of young people unemployed.

Youth unemployment has widespread and severe consequences in Africa: It leads to poorer living conditions; fuels migration out of Africa; and contributes to conflict on the continent.

Above all, youth unemployment represents a failure to capitalise on one of the continent's most valuable assets for growth: its young people, according to an African Development Bank (AfDB).

According to the Global Centre on Adaptation, young Africans are frequently shut out of politics because the old generation holds political power.

Africa should concentrate on how to secure development while driving economic growth through inclusion. It must consider how to diversify its economies and create jobs. It will help Africa to avoid becoming a breeding ground for insurgents and terrorism, both of which are detrimental to development.

Wisdom comes with experience.

Many African civilisations have a long and proud tradition of respecting and honouring their elders. However, the predominance of men in political decision-making well into retirement is of major concern.

In order to keep up with population growth, African member states must continue to expand their economies. They must look beyond primary commodity exports and natural resources.

They must diversify their economies by focusing on alternative growth sources, job creation and the need to add value to agriculture and other commodities.

Manufacturing, petrochemicals and other industries must be developed. A few African nations are bridging the infrastructure gap, which was hurting the continent's economic development by at least 2% yearly.

Along with the push to develop industries, Africa must invest into vital infrastructure, such as electricity and roads. To provide flexible and fast loans, financial mechanisms must be developed.

A small shift is required regarding entrepreneurship as a key factor in job development, especially among young people.

On the climate front, extreme temperatures have had an impact on migration patterns and intensified conflicts as hundreds of thousands move in search of alternative livelihoods.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 490 million children in 35 sub-Saharan countries are at risk from the effects of the climate crisis.

Children and young people, if given the correct opportunities, have the potential to ignite a social and economic revival across the continent.

African countries must enhance financial investment and economic measures to prevent and respond to the effects of climate change and nation-building challenges.

Climate change exacerbates existing global inequalities. Africa, which contributes the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions, is anticipated to bear the highest burden. It is only fair that the most developed countries, who are primarily responsible for the climate crisis, bear a disproportionate share of the cost of adaptation and mitigation measures.

African governments, on the other hand, must ensure that investments in a climate-resilient future do not come at the expense of young people. Empowerment does not always imply the provision of funds or resources, but rather the establishment of policies that allow young people to realise their full potential.


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