Most of what I state here, I state with Nigeria in mind and Africa at heart. Africa’s demography, whether or not we remain in denial, is consistently on the rise.
On better days I like to define youth in my own way as people irrespective of age who are young and progressive in mind, willingly to learn, grow and develop mentally while converting their gained knowledge into progressive and beneficial action. But for this piece I will stick with the norm, which is an age range between 15-25 years.
By 2030, which is the target date for the sustainable development goals for Africa, the number of youth is projected to have grown by 7%, to nearly 1.3 billion people. From where I stand, this projection is not a blessing neither is it a curse, it will be whatever we make of it. However it should be a major cause of worry to African leadership.
We need to develop potential solutions to engage African youth and implement those solutions. In Africa, unfortunately, most of our youth are occupied with thoughts on how and where to get their next meal. This is as a result of failed governmental systems, as compared to the youth population I can easily state that we barely have social safety nets that should prevent individuals from falling into poverty beyond a certain level. These youths, majority of which have the minimum levels of education or are unemployed should be engaged in learning systems, skill acquisition, acquisition of education needed to contribute in forming a productive economy where job creation and entrepreneurship can soar.
We have to define WHY Africa needs potential solutions to engage African youth; it will help us identify our issues properly. In Nigeria, for instance, most of our programs and solutions towards educational challenges that youth encounter are driven from a sympathetic approach rather than an empathetic one. What if we create programs that empowers advanced teachers as teaching coaches to help develop aspiring educators, college-educated role models as mentors to help young people realise their college ambitions, high achieving youths (the minority) as mentors to tutor others and inspire them to gain interest in self-education while social safety nets are developed. We cannot solve our current problems using the same mental models, approaches we have been using for decades. Adopting short-term resolves like we have been doing for a long time might not help us at all in solving long-term problems. Because it encourages mediocrity and compromise while making investments as a continent and using aides effectively, we will compromise on building of infrastructure and sustainable systems continuously if we continue to use short-term approaches for long-term problems.
When I say potential solutions to engage African youths I imply that we need solutions that have the capacity to develop into something major and outstanding for Africa. This is a way forward both on a national and intercontinental level.
When we change our approach, our results will change as well.