Africa is a continent of the young, with about 65% of the total population are below the age of 35 years, and over 35% are between the ages of 15 and 35 years – making Africa the most youthful continent. During the 29th African Union (AU) Summit, her Excellency Amira El Fadil, the Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Commission said, “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth is the key to achieving the bold aspirations of Agenda 2063. We need to implement the key deliverables in the Roadmap and transform education and skills development, health and wellbeing, empowerment as well as employment and entrepreneurship as we march towards inclusive economic growth and sustainable development”
The youth are critical for Africa’s continued development and demographic evolution. This population represents new entrants into the continent’s labour force and will also serve as the basis for future demographic growth. The youth can therefore be either a major source of development, or serious social friction depending on the success with which they are incorporated into the labour market and other social structures.
Governments, researchers and civil society have increasingly recognized that quality education, training, health information and services, as well as human rights protections and opportunities to participate in decision-making are necessary for the young people. With these investments, the youth are able to thrive, contribute fully to their societies, and develop the judgement, values, behaviours, and resilience they need to be safe, to end discrimination and violence, especially against girls and women, and to help create and sustain national, sub-regional, continental and global peace. In turn, this generation will nurture the next so that they can reach their full potential and participate effectively in a rapidly changing globalized world.