Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The glaring realities of Africa’s youth as the continent commemorates June 16

On June 16, the continent commemorated the Day of the African Child.

June 16 offers an opportunity to reflect on state of youth.

Many countries across the African continent take this day seriously, not least because the youth form a big demographic for much of African countries.

Yet the youth constitute the most disempowered segment of the continent.

And it looks like the future is for many of the youth bleak.

According to a recent survey of fifteen African countries, the young people  in Africa are fast losing hope. As a result, a growing number of them would be happy to emigrate.

Not surprisingly a growing number is seriously considering moving abroad.

This is because they view the current systems in their countries as inadequate to meet their aspirations and ambitions.

The interviewed young people had very pessimistic outlook for Africa’s prospects going into the future.

This is on account of the fact that many of them are now out of school or following the pandemic find themselves out of work and with no income to sustain themselves.

Many of them are still dealing with the after effects of Covid-19.

About 60 percent of African population is younger than 25, and more than a third is aged between 15 to 34. By 2100 , it is estimated that Africa will have the world’s youngest population with a median age of 35. This calls for urgent planning and investment to prepare for what is coming Africa’s way.

Apart from Rwanda and Ghana, at least two thirds of those surveyed strongly believed that their nations were going in a wrong direction. In Rwanda and Ghana 50 percent and 56 percent respectively believed their countries had a great future.

Views on the direction of the continent as a whole came out as more divided among those surveyed, except for Ghana where the feeling was strong that Africa is moving in the right direction.

Frustration among young people has spurred the desire to emigrate. About 52 percent of those surveyed want to move abroad in the next three years. This represents a significant rise over a previous survey during which more than two thirds had wanted to stay in Africa.

The survey is for fifteen countries, and Africa as we all know is much more than just that, but the survey teaches us a lot about this demographic.

For many of Africa’s young people, much of the past optimism has not resulted in opportunities.

There are a number of reasons for it. Corrupt leadership is one and an absence of finance is the other.

These are sobering results, coming from a survey that is Africa grown.

It cannot be business as usual. Botswana has a lot to learn from the survey.

In a way the results of this survey mirror the situation as it pertains on the ground in Botswana.

Internal security vulnerabilities remain a big issue for much of Africa given that young people are looking for jobs and are joined by many more others every year who join the labour markets ranks for jobs that do not exist.

This means that governments are always scared of riots hence the heavy-handedness of many African governments on protesters.


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