Give Africa’s youth opportunity to drive development – Opinion

For quite some time now, I have been listening to and watching robust debates on the leadership we want as Africans to grow and develop our continent.

These debates have been led by President Paul Kagame, of Rwanda.

He always invites the likes of former president Thabo Mbeki, former president Benjamin Mkapa, of Tanzania, and former president Olusegun Obasanjo, of Nigeria.

But it has come to my understanding that Africa needs to invest in young people.

Not so long ago I spoke of African liberators turning into oppressors.

The first aspect of youth participation should be overseen in the electorate processes. We as the youth of the African continent have the power to elect and remove leaders who don’t fulfil their obligation towards Africans.

Young people should be at the helm of leading state-owned businesses, in the development of state economies, in the business sector, in governmental positions and in the development of youth skills.

It was shocking to see the appointment of a 68-year-old (Sithembiso Nyoni) to the Zimbabwean Ministry of Youth.

Is it because African leaders don’t have faith in us?

I think the answer to that questions is simple: African governments don’t invest in their youth.

Countries like China and Western world countries invest in youth development.

I visited a polytechnic school here in China in December last year.

The president of the school told us they sent some of their pupils to Europe to acquire skills, so that they would be able to utilise those skills for the betterment and the development of their country (China).

Young people leave the African continent to seek greener pastures for themselves due to “limited” opportunities offered to them by African states.

Our continent is not poor, but it is poorly managed.

The situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is just one typical example.

The youthful population continues to rise, but there’s uncertainty over the continent’s preparedness to tap this resources growth.

Africans in Africa should be asking ourselves whether the continent is ready or is prepared to match the attendant social, political and economic challenges in which they will come upon once the continent’s population doubles by 2050 to 2.4 billion. All over the African continent there’s a growing concern among the youth over limited economic resources, growing corruption, rising unemployment and limited political participation.

I note with great dismay that these concerns among African youth are the result of political heads who only care about themselves and their families, friends and cronies.

African states’ governments invest less in the development of the youth, but invest more in taking care of themselves.

Just seven years ago, a survey by the World Bank showed that in Senegal about 40% of the youth joined rebel movements because there were no job opportunities for them.

I’ve always wondered why African states “invested” in our education, yet we don’t get enough opportunities to express and utilise some of the skills we acquired. It doesn’t make sense at all! Yes, I do know the complexities of issues on the African continent.

The youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but, also, we are the partners of today.

The first step towards state development is inclusion.

Africans should consider that the youth are social actors of change and progression.

To me it seems like the African continent is suppressing itself, and we have succumbed to the needs and the demands of Western countries.

We don’t call for regime change of government, but inclusion in governmental, economical, technological and social factors. Youth participation is highly needed.

If the current leadership doesn’t invest in us (youth) in whichever manner, there are chances that the continent may be forever indebted to former colonies (as it is still the case).

Young people have the desire to change the current state of our continent.

We have allowed the so-called liberators to suppress us and to suppress the way we view or challenge the way they are leading African states.

As much as we have a role to play in state development, we also have a duty to perform.

American businessman, poet and humanitarian Samuel Ullman notes, “Youth participation in a growing economy is an essential key to national development.

“The world’s biggest power is the youth, therefore meaningful efforts must be established to help empower them to contribute sufficiently and competently towards the socio-economic and sustainable development of the country.”

Without any reasonable doubt the youth in any country or in any continent represent the future of that country.

South Africa (my birth country) is no exception.

In the words of Indian businesswoman Nita Dalal Mukesh Ambani, “Education is not a tool for development – individual, community and the nation.

“It is the foundation of our future. “It is empowerment to make decisions and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams.”

First Published by Herald  LIVE
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