How can young people secure a better future for Africa?

By Gerald Chirinda

With 70% of Africa’s population under the age of 30, we as a continent are presented with a great opportunity and, possibly, a great challenge. Young Africans today are taking actions that not only have an immediate impact, but will also determine the future of the continent for decades to come.

Never has there been such weighty responsibility on the shoulders of young people. Never has there been the influence in the hands of young people like the influence they carry now. But for Africa to reap the dividends she has longed for, it is up to our generation to make sure that influence is channelled correctly and directed towards relevant issues that affect not only ourselves, but generations after us. This can only be achieved if we come together as young people and begin to address the challenges before us as a continent.

The role of African youth is drastically changing, but so are some of the challenges we face, such as employability and entrepreneurship opportunities. The strength of any society is within the strength and resolve of its youth – what investment are young people making in our continent today?

In the past 6 months, I’ve listened to the argument stating that we have spent more time focused on what’s happening in other continents, like the US presidency, and less on local issues. I have had the privilege of being invited to speak at different platforms across Africa and have met and engaged with fellow young people who know less about my country Zimbabwe but more of what’s happening in the US and in Europe, and these discussions brought us to a conclusion that as a continent we have not done a good job in telling our own stories, both good and bad, affecting our people. (Could you tell us a bit about your background here – in what capacity are you listening to these arguments?) There are important matters such as the thousands of lives of fellow Africans lost at sea when trying to leave the continent for greener pastures, youth unemployment, gross mismanagement of government institutions and resources, xenophobia among our own people and the general restlessness and frustrations of young African people.

There’s no problem with us engaging in discourse at a global level, but I feel it is important for us to exert more of our time and energy on issues that affect our continent and our people. I believe if we, as youth, don’t take ownership and responsibility for our problems and challenges, we run the risk of allowing other nations, organizations and institutions to do so on their terms. My question to fellow young Africans is are we creating a future in which generations after us can be confident?

A lot has been said about Africa and its rise in the past few years. For this to be true, I believe it requires its people to also rise and drive the agenda, not wait for instruction or direction from other nations. If this doesn’t happen, Africa may still rise, but only for those with an agenda for the continent. This then begs me the question of fellow young Africans: what is our agenda, and what are we doing to shape that agenda?

With regard to employability, according to the African Development Bank report, by 2050 Africa will be home to 38 of the 40 youngest countries in the world, with median populations under 25 years of age. This will result in an estimated 10-12 millionnew people joining the labour force each year. These statistics clearly indicate that a considerable amount of investment must go into human development to unlock a demographic dividend. What innovative policies and programmes do we, as young people, want to make sure that this happens and that this growth will not result in a demographic time bomb for Africa?

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us and the rate at which technology is advancing it is critical that we have a sufficiently educated and skilled workforce to be able to drive Africa in this direction. There is currently a mismatch between industry demands and the education curriculum. Education institutions need to update their curricula to align with the direction in which the world and Africa are going. If we ignore this, our young people will have irrelevant qualifications that the continent will be unable to benefit from.

It is worrying to note the rate at which young educated Africans are leaving to seek more opportunities abroad. The grass is not always greener on the other side, however, as leaders of other nations are also facing domestic challenges and therefore not prioritizing immigrants. If our educational institutions can include entrepreneurship as a mandatory subject at all levels of education, more young people will be better equipped to create jobs and address the issue of high unemployment.

I am a strong advocate for local solutions to local challenges, but for this to happen, we need to encourage and cultivate innovation among our youth. It is encouraging to note that there are pockets of this already taking place across the continent, where we can see uptake and use of locally-designed technology. More of this needs to happen across the board, covering the different sectors of our economies, as Africa still lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to introducing disruptive technology. Human development is about creating opportunities and building a person’s ability to innovate and be entrepreneurial. Significant investment needs to go towards this.

With the growth of the continent, it only makes sense for us to industrialize in order to be less reliant on importing products for consumption from outside the continent. According to the African Economic Outlook 2017 report, Africa’s growing population is expected to generate a rise in consumer spending from $680 billion in 2008 to $2.2 trillion in 2030. This increased spending has the potential to lead to greater prosperity.

The growth in Africa’s population presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurial innovations and ideas to be implemented. It does, however, require strong political will to enable the right environment to be created to encourage these ideas and for entrepreneurs to be supported in their different stages of growth, from start-up, early stage and growth stage right through to becoming large corporations.

As you may notice, this article asks more questions than it provides solutions. The best way for us to answer these is if we begin to engage in conversations and dialogue amongst ourselves as young Africans and see what solutions we can come up with for a better Africa. We spend time complaining about poor leadership in our countries, but my final question is: are we ourselves prepared to succeed the generation that precedes us?

Let us intentionally create a culture that encourages the building and shaping of the Africa that we want. The change we want begins with us coming together and developing our own culture and value system for thinking, planning, implementation, accountability, integrity and collaboration. It is up to us as young Africans to shape the narrative of our continent. Let us begin to do so, in every sphere of society.

Source: World Economic Forum

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NYLC: Youths are solutions to Nigeria’s problems

By Victoria Onehi

Youths have been charged to see themselves as solution to Nigeria’s problems. This charge was given by Senator Dino Melaye while making remarks at the National Youth Leadership Conference, held in Abuja on Tuesday.

Melaye while speaking on the theme of the conference ‘2019 and Beyond: Leaders Nigeria Needs’ said the future of the country was in the hand of the youths. “As youths of this country, you need to grab it, you need to take charge and you need to overcome fear.” he said.

In her speech, the special guest of Honour and former Minister of Women Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina said the youths were leaders for today and tomorrow.

“Nigeria Youths like their counterparts in other countries if given the opportunity are very dynamic, very versatile, intelligent, dedicated. The empowerment and contribution of the youths towards nation building cannot be ignored as it is the essential element for sustainable development,” she said.

Chairperson of the National Youth Leadership Conference (NYLC) Miss Chimdi Neliaku, said the conference is aimed at raising the consciousness of young people to know qualities they should look out for in the leaders they should vote for in 2019 and beyond.

Source: Daily Trust

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Namibia: Young man thrives in the nail-do industry


SHIPEPE – Driven by the passion to fight poverty and create an income for himself, 27-year-old Angolan-born Sergio Manuela da Silva has breached the stereotypical view that the nail-do is a women’s job and now successfully runs a door-to-door beauty parlour in the northern towns.

Formally trained at a tender age of 15 in his home town Luanda, Da Silva also accrued skills from his mother, who is also in the trade.

He has been running a beauty parlour with his mother in his native Angola before coming to Namibia to visit a relative.

Given the financial circumstances in his home country, Da Silva said he saw an opportunity to present Namibians a chance to do their nails and hair from the comfort of their homes. Although the start was not plain sailing, he was able to create a clientele base in a short time and now boasts a good number of customers in Ondangwa, Ongwediva and Oshakati.

“I am flexible, I can go anywhere as long as there are enough customers to cover the costs,” Da Silva related.
When busy with a customer, Da Silva barely makes conversation and concentrates fully on what he is doing – which he does with so much passion.

Asked why he opted for the beauty industry instead of, for example, fixing cars as many a teenage boy would aspire to become, Da Silva said he learned at a young age that women always had money lying around to spend on their hair and nails.

“Women may not have money for other things but they always have money to beautify themselves,” he explained. Although the industry is predominantly female, Da Silva said being male still works in his favour because women hold the perception that men are the best in the industry.

For Da Silva, his passion stretches beyond doing nails.
In addition he does hair, eyelashes and make-up. With the evolving world, where there is talent, da Silva said one should always explore other possible opportunities that are in demand.

Da Silva advised fellow youths to venture into businesses or look for jobs instead of waiting for the government to provide for them.

“When you are above 18, you can no longer expect your parents to take care of u. We should look for jobs and take care of our parents,” da Silva said.

Source: New Era

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