By Nkhensani Valoyi
According to the African Youth and Union commission website 65% of the total population of Africa is below the age of 35 years, and over 35% are between the ages of 15 and 35 years – making Africa the most youth full continent. By 2020, it is projected that out of 4 people, 3 will be on average 20 years old. About 10 million young African youth arrive each year on the labor market. It is with no doubt that Africa is a youthful continent hence attention must be given to the youth. The more the youth strives economically, the more the state of the continent will reflect those economic conditions to the betterment of the people.
The voices of African youth are vital for the successful implementation of programmes that impact them and their daily lives. We have witnessed countries like Ethiopia that has been praised for the high GDP rate but still have the poverty gaps among its people, that is the situation with most of the African countries that have a good sustainable GDP rate. Countries like South Africa that have +/- 600 000 unemployed graduates have proven that it’s not education only that will foster transformation but skills development as well.
We are in the era where the voices of the youth are needed for transformation acceleration. The African youth haven’t been vocal enough about what they need from their states, not vocal enough to get their ideas to where they will be heard, not vocal enough to question the Policies that are implemented to them. There is involvement from the African youth in some of the programmes implemented like the African Union Youth Volunteers amongst many other more but given the number of the youth in Africa it is not enough.
I am a true believer that African solutions will come from African Youth. I believe in this because I believe that some of the statistics said are not accurate enough, the youth of Africa know the situation of their surroundings better than any international body trying to solve the problems of the youth. The voices of the youth in rural areas which cannot be known by social media.
Speaking in one voice is the most important part of problem solving in Africa. If all African states can sit and share their problems, a lot would be achieved. Africa is known to be living in a communal way sharing of problems and coming up with solutions. The secret deals that have been taken by African leaders previously are the reason why Africa is sitting where it is. Colonisation is still present in Africa and plans are being drafted every now and then by non Africans who see Africa as a crying baby who is always waiting to be spoon fed. African leadership must be united, be strong and stand its ground when it comes to the interests of its people. This voice needs to be proud and loud enough to be able to turn things around.
I am not asserting that Africa must not work hand in hand with other countries in the world but all I am saying is that Africa needs to go and seek help where it needs to, not the help being presented to it by continents that have robbed it before. As such to combat poverty and to transform the 133 million Youth that is illiterate in Africa as per the African Economic Outlook 2013, the Youth needs to start getting involved from where they are, the media needs to reflect our concern. There are many of us in Africa, many of us on social media but for some reason we do not take advantage of the digital space that we have access to, there aren’t enough blogs voicing our opinions, ideas, creative implementation of what needs to be done, or perhaps questioning the system.
It is a sad reality that some of the Youth in Africa do not even know the history of Africa. Radio as a medium of communication must not be phased out, in Africa we need Radio since it is the one medium of communication that the Youth in rural areas do have access to. The answers towards African economic emancipation and social well being are in the African Youth’s mind, hence the need to start talking, enlightening each other and discussing matters. There are a few various platforms and network that the Youth can follow like VOYA and McKinsey on Society. Voices of Youth Africa (VOYA) Leadership Development centre is a vocal advocate for emerging youth leaders in Africa. It encourages a platform where young people voices can be heard on issues affecting them and the society they live in. Their mission is to encourage a forum for exchanging innovative ideas, approaches, and best practices from the different countries in Africa towards improving transparency, accountability and youth participation in politics.
McKinsey on Society is a platform for debating issues around social impact in Africa. Various Topics are posted and the Youth contributes, it is vital to follow platforms like this as they are very informative and they unleash the creativity to problem solving out of people. There are many other platforms online similar to the two that I mentioned. Alternatively if there no platform that intrigue your creativity, start one and create awareness. It is time to transform Africa, it is time to be innovative around our surrounding using what we have, it is time for sustainable transformation.
It’s also time for Africa’s leaders to start talking with their youths and children for today’s children will be tomorrow’s youth, not talking to or about them in terms of policies. This will foster social cohesion and establish a more inclusive and progressive social development. The psychological being of Africans has been twisted to believe that their former colonizers hold the solutions for their challenges but from the various issues we have explored we have uncovered the other side of the coin. It is no longer time to dwell into the problems that we already know but to execute the suggested solutions from young thought leaders. Leadership has been and will always be an integral part of implementation and problem solving. The Solution Lies within our voices. Let your voice make a difference in Africa.