Since the 1980s, most African countries have experienced demographic shifts that have resulted in young populations, creating the possibility of youth marginalisation, but also a potential demographic dividend. The lack of social and economic opportunities generates unease about youths’ future and anger and loathing towards society and government, heightening the risk of uprisings as witnessed during the Arab Spring. Governments have become aware of the inefficacy of existing policies designed to advance the welfare of the ever-increasing youth population, and look to change this by formulating inclusive policies, often with support from the international community, to harness youth potential. The African Youth Charter defines youth as those aged between 15-35 years, encompassing groups with different social, economic and political needs. The heterogeneity of this group makes policy formulation complex, resulting in poorly designed and ill-suited policies that fail to address the diverse and multi-facetted causes of youth violence. While SSA governments express concern about escalating youth violence, their macroeconomic policies are not well targeted at youth needs and create further agitation among the youth demographic. Some youths see contesting for political office as a solution to these challenges. However, the social, political and economic diversity of young voters hampers such solutions, as youthful candidates do not appeal to all young voters. Looking ahead, to harness the demographic dividend will require reforms and investments, especially targeted at the youth, including in ICT, youth empowerment programmes, quality education and healthcare. The goal is to better equip the youths for present and future challenges.
"Youth in Africa: Between Marginalisation and Demographic Dividend,"
Southern African Journal of Policy and Development: Vol. 4
, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/sajpd/vol4/iss2/6