AFRICAN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT: A PANACEA TO THE CONTINENT’S ‘SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The world’s socio economic growth has grown in leaps and bounds over the last 10-15 years . Economies of different continents have been led into a race; a race against the tide of redundancy and obsolescence and to the finish line of development and ease of living.
The economic growth of the African continent has been tremendous and forecasts from the discussions of analysts and even discussions from the world economic forum of the last three years has indicated improved economic and trade policies .
Key to this improvement is the sustained growth of the four most important sectors that serve as indices for economic growth and development ; Education , Entrepreneurship , Technological Improvement and the environment.
Indeed, other continents across the world (most notably asia) have stolen the march over the last 3 centuries as the continent still shakes itself from the shackles of colonialism . This has been evident from the slow pace of economic growth caused by corruption and nepotism , occasioned by ethnic divisions and wars.
This economic growth has not been able to effectively translate to economic development ( an improvement in the standard of living ) as poverty levels still stand above the 40% threshold. This has been due to lack of suitable mechanisms and policies in the core sectors of the economy to adapt and work in favor of environmental changes and socio- cultural transformation.
However, over the past 6 years , effective political systems and increased and improved information has led the path for sustainable development and the springing up of vibrant developing economies within the continent and particularly in the West African sub-region . Emerging markets have been built as a result of the modification in strategies towards achieving the seventeen sustainable development goals (SDG) by 2030.
A key cog in this wheel ? The youth.
Population census figures has revealed an increased growth of the proportion of youth to the total population figures , with continental giants,Nigeria and South Africa boasting of a youth (16-53 ) percentage of a whooping 63% and statistics show that their contribution to GDP lies at 74%.
Their influence is down to the concentration of the youth in these four thematic areas ; Education , Entrepreneurship, Environment and Technology.
These four areas lies as the subject of note for the forthcoming West African Youth Summit (WAYS) in lagos, Nigeria from the 4th to 6th of July, 2018 as youths converge at the economic capital of the sub region to discuss on ways to improve and proffer solutions to problems bedevilling them.
Entrepreneurship : An index for Economic Improvement
Recent surveys have held that Africa boasts of the highest number of entrepreneurs; this is more or less considered a paradigm shift considering the occupational distribution of most countries in Africa.
The new ‘Gospel’ propagated by governments on the need for self reliance and local production and consumption due to tactical unemployment ; a reduction in corporate jobs which is a fall out from technological advances has led to an increase in individuals taking up the challenge of producing for their immediate environment.
Indeed , Youths have been encouraged across the subregion to learn a skill or vocation and start up a business . This has been evident in the entrepreneurial studies course which is a key part of the Nigerian University curriculum.
However, access to finance among other bugging problems lies on the foot of the country towards actualizing its vision of sub sustainability , an index of the nations socio economic development blueprint also known as vision 20:20:20 .
The billed conference is expected to provide avenues to train and equip youths on key ingredients and psychological attitudes towards building an empowered youth. The WAYS 2018 conference would also have different panelist sessions to help drive solutions towards these problems and also help budding entrepreneurs network and showcase their products through its exhibition event.
What does this mean for the african economy?
Increased business would aid the effective circulation of money and reduce employment. The right information given to these youths and proper guidance through this conference means the development of better sales, production and marketing strategies . It would also create diversity in the market and encourage the growth of hitherto unknown sectors.
Entrepreneurship is key for Africa’s development and the WAYS conference would certainly offer an avenue for an effect.
No Education! No development!
The Development of education in africa has been slow but recent trends raise hope for an improved system in the coming years.
A recent UNESCO report stated that 40% of african over the age of 15 are illiterates. The continent has the largest percentage of youth population in the world with countries like Nigeria boasting of a huge 62% of the total population.
One of the key goals of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which was rolled over in 2015 was access to primary education . Recent Population trends and the need for a replacement of workforce in the public sector has led to improved calls for access to higher education . This has led to increased Enrolment in higher Education from 6.9% in 1997 to over 9.2 % in 2014.
This increase however has deepened the unemployment gap as young graduates find it difficult to get jobs in a public sector that requires job skills and extensive knowledge of the sector.
Educational curricula among higher institutions are more theoretical and outdated in nature , making it difficult for young school leavers to meet the practical demands of the labour market.
Education lies at the forefront of any development as it builds innovation and harnesses skills and talents which is essential for capacity building. The WAYS conference seeks to bring seasoned educationalists in interactive session with youth leaders and students to seek a common mutual resolution towards utilizing education in economic development by narrowing the gap between the labour demands and skills of the youth.
The African Union (AU) agenda of 2063 posits that “ sustaining economic growth depends largely on the implementation of a modern economic structure that focuses on innovation and technological development.” .
Education is the key to innovation!
Technology : The rise of Africa ‘s potential
The ‘breakneck’ speed of technological advancement across the world has put the African continent on its own race towards its personalized development of local based technology, advancing the ease of economic development.
70 % of the african population have access to a mobile phone ; a major means of technological advancement.
Indeed, news stories of african youths that have been able to create and design equipments, implements and devices that could save time and make difficult tasks easier are easily seen on news papers and news websites all over the continent. The internet has proven to be a single useful technology in aiding Africans to make life activities easier.
However, the slow pace of tech growth in africa has been put down to a number of factors which include education, finance and socio- cultural factors. It is expected at the WAYS 2018 conference that important discussions would be held with key stakeholders in the growing west african technology industry to seek solutions on building and developing key technology for africa …. by africans and create a sustainable plan towards technological advancement of our very own “wakanda kingdom” ( perhaps drawing some inspiration from the 2018 movie, “ Black panther”).
Health /Environment : Our ‘Achilles‘ heel ‘ to capacity building
Capacity Building serves as the core for development of any area.
The recently published Human Capacity Index has shown low human capacity most especially for countries within the sub region. Health is an important component for population growth or shrinkage. While a decrease in child mortality rates in expected in coming years, there is also an increase in health related deaths as more people are dying from cancer and kidney related diseases. Poor Healthy habits and a surge in low intake of junk food and carbonated drinks have led to cases of obesity and diabetes in youths.
Environmental challenges of pollution ( the recent soot pollution in Portharcourt , Nigeria) among other effects of toxic emission have been responsible for some of the effects of climate change felt in the continent ( torrential rainfall and flood , drought etc ). This poses a great challenge to the growth and development of the economy .
The WAYS Conference would serve as a perfect avenue to bring up these issues and brainstorm on solutions to them as health and environmental experts and key players would be in attendance to discuss the way forward for the Africa of tomorrow!
The West African Youth Conference (WAYS) would hold in Lagos , Nigeria from the 4th to the 6th of July, 2018 at the Digital Bridge Institute complex with the theme, “Strengthening Youth Collaboration for Growth and Profitability” .
8 different guest speakers drawn from the four key sectors ( Entrepreneurship, Education, Technology , Environment) are expected to be in attendance.
The conference would also feature a panelist session where 16 different panelists would engage in young entrants into the various sectors and equip them effectively.
Over 400 attendees are expected with over 1000 online and offline participants. This could be one of the biggest single gathering of youths in the sub region!
There would also be slots for 25 young exhibitors to display their inventions .
Finally , an award ceremony would follow to reward exceptional youths that have excelled in their chosen sectors.
An opportunity for networking , meeting and creating contacts with top industry leaders would also be gained at this conference.
The results of deliberations at the West African Youth Summit (WAYS) 2018 conference would likely serve as the blueprint for a new and sustainable masterplan solution towards Africa’s socio-economic Development.