Written by the founder of African Youth Empowerment, Tinotenda Maveneka with contributions from Darryl Nyamutsamba and Amanda Murimba for the SDG Bulletin South Africa (June 2018)
Africa’s people are the youth. The youth of Africa are the majority of the continent’s population with the average age of Africa at 19.5 years. Africa is the youngest continent in the world and with that statement means two important facts.
- Africa has great potential and a great responsibility to its youth. By targeting the youth of Africa, we can develop the continent to finally live up to its potential as one of the most powerful continents in the world.
- Currently, Africa has the highest unemployment rate of any continent in the world. The youth of Africa are often targeted as consumers and not as productive members of society.
Additionally, if you consider politics and business, the average age of politicians and CEOs of major organisations in Africa is over 50 with few instances where African leaders appoint youth (35 and below) in positions of power.
As a result, the youth of Africa are left vulnerable. Instead of shaping our youth to be productive members of society, we find that they are instead targets of exploitation, misrepresentation and often (and unfortunately), victims of illicit drug use and sexual exploitation and abuse. While our continent has this history, the world is changing and with that, so must Africa’s approach.
The population on the continent is expected to reach over 2 billion by 2030. Africa’s industries have begun to make a global impression and inter-African business is expected to increase rapidly. It is noted that the economies of many African nations are starting to flourish; the potential for trade and export has risen substantially and we see the emergence of many Pan Africa companies. These positives can only survive on the notion that Africa takes a responsibility for its youth and utilizes them effectively.
The emergence of the 4th industrial revolution could not come at a better time for a young Africa as this represents an opportunity to grow. Technology is changing the forms of labour across the world. We see machines replacing traditional roles and a larger need for skilled labour. Using the example of Chinese industries and how rapidly they have grown, one could contest that our youth are capable of creating similar industries that will help our nations rise to the same level as the west. However, for this to happen effectively, we must create a way to expose our youth to the opportunities available to them.
Facilitating youth empowerment and employment, we will be able to contribute directly to the development of their skills and on a larger scale, the African continent. African Youth Empowerment recognises the need to empower and develop our youth and seeks to engage with the world on how to empower our youth. Developing and empowering Africa’s youth is empowering Africa.