Africa truly is known for a lot of things. The continent is known for different things including weak regional integration and relatively low levels development.
Africa can also boasts some of the biggest sources and reserves of natural and human resources in the world. These include its youth population size, which has the potential to lift it out of the doldrums of poverty, inequality and economic backwardness but has not been encouraged in recent decades.
Africa can boast of extracting minerals, solid, liquid and gaseous on a daily basis but one of the most important resources still available for Africa is the huge size of the increasing youth population.
By 2050, it’s expected that world’s population reach 9.7 billion, up from 7.3 billion in 2015. By that time, Africa is projected to see its population more than double, while the slowest-growing region, Europe, is expected to see its population decline by about 4 per cent. This means that in 2050 there will be around 3.5 times more Africans (2.5 billion) than Europeans (707 million).
In accordance with that, the less-developed countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and parts of Asia are still experiencing an increase in the youth populations.
Some countries in Africa will see the working-age shares of their population grow between now and 2050. Their challenge will be to make the investments in human and physical capital needed to take advantage of this demographic dividend.
The status quo right now is that many of Africa’s young people grow up in abject poverty, inequality, conflict and instability, while access to education remains a challenge with about one third of adolescent girls not in school.
At the same time on the continent, youth unemployment has remained at twice the adult rate, while young people aged 15-24 make up only 37 per cent of the working age population, they account for 60 per cent of all unemployed people in Africa.
For Africa, demographic dividend requires multiple investments, such as building the capabilities of people and ensuring their rights and freedoms to achieve their potential. Youths need a chance to gain the education and experience to succeed in a competitive global workplace, which demands more skills, education and technical expertise than ever before.
Africa has a huge opportunity to reap demographic dividends from her millions of youth and huge population size.
Accordingly, the best time to cash in on this dividend is now, nations and leaders should seize the opportunity to make the right decisions, along with private sector partners to move the agenda forward, especially as the AU theme for 2017 is the demographic dividend.