Youth Population- “A blessing or a curse?”

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Time to hide our head in the sand like the proverbial Ostrich is over. The fire of crime is burning our continent. The fire of terrorism is burning our continent. The fire of violence is burning our continent. Its time we ask ourselves the hard questions: Is the growing youth population a blessing or curse for Africa?

Various sources confirm that the youth population is increasingly growing in Africa. The UN put Africa as the continent with the youngest population in the world due to the fact that over 200 million people in Africa are aged between 15 and 24 years.  The Africa Union Commission agrees with this fact by stating that 65% of the total population in Africa are aged below 35 years and 35% are between 15 and 35 years. These statistics could be indicators of a ticking time bomb or an opportunity for the continent to rise higher.

The youth population is a blessing that does not require a rocket- scientist to see and understand it. A bigger youth population means a bigger work force which is promising for our economy. A bigger youth population translates to more innovation which increases Africa’s capability to compete in the world market. A bigger youth population means a strong police force and a stronger military force. A bigger youth population guarantees Africa a better future.

A bigger youth population becomes a ticking -time bomb when: there are no employment opportunities; when tribalism and nepotism replaces meritocracy; when democracy is replaced by dictatorship; when violence is the road to power; when the few rich continue getting richer while the majority poor get poorer; when good education is for the few rich and the majority poor are given average education. This situation has to stop in Africa or else we as a continent are courting serious trouble.

This article does not require research it simply calls for common sense! Ask your self about the level of youth unemployment in your countries. Ask about access to quality education. Ask about corruption level. Ask! Ask! Ask! Ask!

The youth question is a question of governance!

Author: John Wesonga – Kenya

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES.

One Comment

  1. While I do agree with the notion that the youth debate is fundamentally about governance and that certainly a large youth population can either be a blessing or curse as has been discussed and presented comprehensively, the demographic composition and structure of the youth in Africa and East Africa in particular clearly represents a harmless and docile youth populace.

    The increasing debate on the benefits and risks of a spiraling youth population ignores the fact that the youth lack strong mobilization and capacity to effect any form of change. The high levels of vulnerability, desperation, apathy caused by the untamed levels of poverty and unemployment make it easy for the dictatorial leaderships to manipulate and entrench its patronages.

    While it is tempting to believe that these conditions would be catalysts for violence and dismantling of the structure as has been historically exhibited in some of the regional countries like Uganda through armed struggles, the levels of organization at the time are really far much different.

    There have presently been deliberate government policies to demobilize and incapacitate the populace through education and economic policies. This has left the youth in a state of hopelessness which makes then unable to create a unified front against the democratic and economic deficiencies due to selfish desires fueled by individualism.

    Therefore, while the youth can be an asset or a liability, in the east African region, their capacity has been largely demobilized and neutralized through deliberate government effort. This largely calls for multifaceted approaches that include but not limited to capacity building, and programs averred towards reconstructing the ideological foundations on which our societies are built.

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