What would a society without a youthful population look like? No doubt it will educe the feeling of seeing a dying ember in the fireplace; indeed such a society would be seen as a nation without a future. The same can also be said of a society that does not prepare its youths to take up responsibilities at their prime.
A cursory look at the demographic composition of the leadership on the continent today, will show that most African state leaders are aged and their appointees are also their contemporaries whom they find it easier to relate with.
The downside of this trend is that this set of leaders are no longer forward looking, neither are they capable of keeping pace with the speed of innovation and development, characteristic of the world they live in. They have however leveraged on the reins of constitutional authority to hang on to power and debilitate opposing voices.
It is unfortunate that the quality of education that these leaders received in their youth, is no longer within the reach of the youths that they have been privileged to govern today.
It is sad but true that Africa has a humongous infrastructure deficit, as a result of violent conflicts and lack of resources. However, the poverty has been mainly fuelled by a myopic over-reliance on primary production for exports.
Today as the world is changing and shedding generational influences, Africa is still in the vice-like grips of traditional leaders, who are frightened to lose their places to their children and grandchildren who are in the 25 – 40 age bracket.
They have rather condemned this generation of youths to untimely redundancy, justifying their self-indulgence to hold sway in political office for several terms until death comes.
Today across many Sub-Saharan countries the educational system is in comatose, or endemically erratic, prompting the private sector to intervene and offer at exorbitant fees less than what is offered for free by the government in other continents.
As a result only few can afford it and the majority who cannot end up frustrated, having no opportunity even for relevant skills acquisition to fill in places in industries, or trending career opportunities, which are then filled by expatriates for the reason that citizens are not qualified.
Africa is still yet to come to terms with itself decades after independence, as a result of internal political squabbles which has further divided the people from within.
Today as most of this class of aged leaders are faced with senility and paranoia, over mass criticisms of their colossal economic policy failures, they have in turn engaged many jobless youths (youth unemployment by the way is a crisis in Africa) as e-rats, social media influencers, cannon fodders and foot soldiers to obfuscate, exterminate, kidnap, abuse and enslave other youths.
All over the continent, from the horn of Africa to the base of it, the voices of the youths are ringing out loud and clear crying “GIVE US A CHANCE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!.”
As the continent marks Africa Day today May 25th, it is very apt that the African Union (AU) has chosen a theme centred on the future of Africa – ‘its youth’ to commemorate this day and provide food for thought for its leaders and all well-meaning partners of the Future of Africa Project.
On 25 May 1963, Africa made history with the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which brought the Continent together. Since then, the 25 May has been celebrated widely across the world particularly in Africa to signify Africa’s identity and unity.
According to the AU, Africa is on the march towards a more prosperous future in which all its citizens, young, old, male, female, rural, urban, of all creeds and backgrounds are empowered to realize their full potential, live with satisfaction and pride about their continent. A future with healthy, well educated people living in robust and developed economies.
“Indeed, this is a progressive march towards the “Africa we want” as envisioned in Agenda 2063.”
The African union has therefore decided to devote the theme of the year 2017 to “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in Youth”, stressing that Africa Day presents a unique opportunity to discuss and reflect whiles celebrating important milestones on youth development across the continent.
The AU adds that the central importance of the demographic dividend to Africa’s transformative development has been repeatedly acknowledged by African leaders at the highest level and in key ministerial platforms. Over the last ten years, it has become evident that a demographic dividend lens offers a strategic basis for focusing and prioritizing investments in people in general and the youth in particular, in order to achieve sustainable development, inclusive economic growth, and to build “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, which is driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”
Furthermore notes the AU: “If the theme of the year is to be successfully realized, it is imperative that platforms of national authorship and ownership be speedily established to enable a cross session of ordinary Africans to connect with what is at present an abstract concept restricted to the ivory tower of the political elite, bureaucrats and academics.
“Against this background, the Africa Day is a golden opportunity to promote the theme of the year all over Africa and the Diaspora. The African Union Commission is therefore calling on all AU Member States, Regional Economic Communities, United Nations Agencies, Africans all over the world and the Diasporas. The day will be celebrated at the African Union Commission Headquarters on the 25 May 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, across Africa and worldwide to commemorate and celebrate Africa Day.”
1. Celebrate Africa Day.
2. Create, maintain and increase awareness for the public at large on:
• The African Union Agenda 2063;
• The theme of the year “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in Youth”;
• On youth programmes within the African Union Commission.
3. Create African Unity through activities.
• AU Member States;
• AU Commission Staff;
• All institutions represented in AUC;
• Partners : Non-African Countries and International Organizations;
• Civil Societies representing Youth and Gender;
• Civil Society Organizations;
• Students from International schools;
• Self-Sponsored from abroad.