Youth Potential: The Key to Sustainable Development in Africa
With 70% of sub-Saharan Africa's population less than 30, Africa has the youngest population in the world. With so many young people, the continent has a chance to grow, but only if the next generations are given the tools they need to reach their full potential. It is crucial that young people participate in decision-making processes and be provided adequate possibilities for employment and innovation.
Young people's participation in politics and society is crucial for peace, innovation, economic progress, and security. It is also a matter of inclusiveness.
Young people now have a seat at the table thanks to the Africa Regional Review, the regional preparatory meeting for LDC5 that was virtually conducted in Malawi this week.
Together with ministers and other officials, young speakers from civil society are speaking, and a special event on young people's contributions to sustainable development is on the agenda.
Importantly, the Review's final report will also incorporate specific suggestions and objectives from young people.
"It's critical that young people participate in decision-making. It's critical that young people are seen as equal partners and right holders rather than only as victims, according to Nickson Kasolene, a spokesperson of the youth and civil society at the Coordinating Conference of Youth Organizations (ICMYO).
If these chances can be identified and taken advantage of, having a young population offers many opportunities for economic growth and innovation.
"Involve kids, make room for them, and give them a seat at the table," Nickson advised in an interview. Don't just passively offer this seat; instead, give young people the tools they need to use it. Young people have potential and collective power that they can employ with the help of the government.
Ageing populations in many nations outside of Africa are causing high healthcare expenses and a lack of trained labor. Young people in Africa struggle with underemployment and a lack of options, or, if they don't have access to the internet, a lack of knowledge about available opportunities.
All around Africa, young people are making daily contributions to their communities and countries. Young people have demonstrated their relevance to creating and maintaining healthy communities via their support of the elderly and their advocacy for justice and equality.
As young people are so powerful and believe that "if we decide to do something, we will react quickly," says Nickson, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they have the potential to promote peace in areas that are already impacted by conflict.
The pursuit of better living conditions, which Nickson refers to as "the obligation of development," is what drives him to engage other young people.
"Getting active makes you feel worried about the issues in the community - and motivates you to have a positive social influence," he says in his conclusion.