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Looking at the Youth Boom in Africa: The Continent's Future is a Big Focus

The last trip Vice President Kamala Harris took to Africa, she mentioned the fact that the population of the continent is the youngest in the world. There is more and more talk about the youth boom and the promising future.

The median age on the African continent is 19. In India, the world’s most populous country, it is 28. In China and the United States, it is 38.

Africa, the vibrant and diverse continent, is experiencing an unprecedented phenomenon – a youth boom. By 2050, one in four people on the planet will be African, a seismic change that’s already starting to register. With approximately 60% of its population under the age of 25, Africa holds the key to a promising future. This demographic shift presents both great challenges and tremendous opportunities for the continent.

Encouraging creativity and innovation among young Africans is being recognized by many of the contries in Africa. This is leading to the development of unique solutions to local problems. Technology is a driving factore. For instance, Africa has 670 million cellphones in use. In addition, Netflix has spent $175 million in Africa since 2016. Governments and organizations are starting to provide support and resources to nurture entrepreneurial spirit and technological advancements.

Africa's population is projected to nearly double to 2.5 billion over the next 25 years.

Improved healthcare and declining mortality rates have resulted in a significant increase in the continent's population. Advancements in education and technology have opened doors to new opportunities for young Africans. Urbanization and migration from rural areas have contributed to the concentration of young people in cities, leading to a surge in the working-age population. At least one-third of all young people aged 15 to 24, according to United Nations forecasts.

Akinwumi Adesina, head of the African Development Bank (ADB) said, “The African diaspora has become the largest financier of Africa.” In 2021, African migrants sent home $96 billion. These funds are significant to the continent and are three times more than the sum of all foreign aid, according to the African Development Bank.

The youth boom in Africa is a transformative force that holds immense potential for the continent's development. By investing in education, fostering innovation, promoting youth employment, and empowering young women, Africa can unleash the capabilities of its youth and propel itself towards sustainable growth. With the right policies and collective efforts, the youth of Africa can become the driving force behind a prosperous and inclusive future for the continent.

While the youth boom offers great potential, it also presents considerable challenges. High unemployment rates, particularly among the youth, remain a pressing concern. The lack of access to quality education, skills mismatch, and limited job opportunities hinder the full utilization of this demographic dividend. Additionally, inadequate infrastructure, political instability, and social inequalities pose hurdles to sustainable growth.

To fully harness the potential of Africa's youth boom, concerted efforts are required from various stakeholders.

Governments and private sectors are meeting to prioritize education and skill development to equip young Africans with the necessary tools for success. This includes promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, vocational training, and entrepreneurship programs.

Creating an enabling environment for job creation is crucial. Governments are implementing policies that attract both domestic and foreign investments, promote entrepreneurship, and provide access to finance for young entrepreneurs. Additionally, public-private partnerships can play a vital role in bridging the gap between skills and job opportunities.

Gender equality is essential for sustainable development. Investing in girls' education, improving access to healthcare, and promoting gender equality in the workforce are critical steps towards achieving inclusive growth.

Effectively harnessing the youth boom can yield numerous benefits for Africa. It can spur economic growth through increased productivity, innovation, and consumer demand. Moreover, a well-educated and skilled young workforce can attract foreign direct investment, drive entrepreneurship, and contribute to the development of diverse industries. Additionally, youth-led initiatives can address social issues, promote peace and stability, and lead to inclusive governance.

[From Scholar Resource Academy. Opio Lumumba Sokoni contributed to this article.]

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