Africa’s true treasure— it’s growing youth population

I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself. Nelson Mandela

For the next 30 years, we will have almost 20 million youth join the workforce. This is a crisis and an opportunity rolled into one. The key question is, which way are we going to let it play out?

In order for Africa to take advantage of this as an opportunity, this upcoming populace must be boosted with skills and jobs created for them. It is a daunting task as there is so much that has to be done.

There is a lot of uncertainty on the global stage. Tensions between the United States and China, Britain’s leaving the European Union all creating disarray. The International Monetary Fund’s last month forecast was gloomy; global growth for 2018 and 2019 could fall to 3.7%, a falloff of 0.2 percentage points from preceding estimates.

Yet with this decline, there is a golden opportunity and Africa has the right stuff to position itself to utilize it.

The World Bank states that six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa. Trade within Africa will be a opening to future local and international growth. The continent’s escalating population creating new prospects across borders.  The most critical thing to note is that Africa’s workforce is on the threshold of a dramatic enlargement. Currently, over 50% of African’s are younger than 25, and 41% are under the age of 15. By 2050, Africa’s youth population is expected to surpass 800 million.

The other side of the coin is the fact that despite this, most of our youth in Africa aren’t ready to capture these economic gains. The African Union’s report for 2018 depicts that African youth will bear grim consequences if they are unemployable for the 21st century. This could relegate an entire generation and lead them down a path of disorder for which will unleash dire penalties for all.

In a nutshell, this means that African governments have a time limit to match job growth with skills training. Regrettably, only a few African nations are addressing this situation effectively.

The African Development Bank states that the unemployment rate for the youth in Africa is two times that of adults. This has severe effects already too many primary schools endure grinding teacher shortages. Changing situations like these require tremendous investment of political and financial capital.

A major way to utilize our looking population explosion is to expand training initiatives that boost our youth with 21st century skills (full disclosure- this the work that our social enterprise does; we focus on STEM skills) As a Scientist and an Engineer, I attest to the transformative power of well developed learning schemes for our youth.

Africa’s progress depends on it’s ability to deploy its population explosion by boosting its youth with technological and innovative skills, which we know will drive economic prosperity.

By 2030, 20 percent of the world’s population will be African. Dwell upon that mind-blowing fact. This size means that the African workforce has the ability to drive global growth for decades. In order to do this, Africans must execute the necessary restructuring today. We must help position our youth for achieving this feat. If African countries rise up to this test, economic advancement will be our reward.

Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator

She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.

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