Africa Must Revisit Its Youth ‘Marshall Plan.’

Published on 6th January 2015

Since the 12th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) declared the years 2009 to 2018 as the decade for youth development in Africa and AU ministers in charge of youth affairs proposed five thematic areas to tap into youth vibrancy, Africa still wallows in a precarious position on this issue. According to demographers, Africa will need 10 million jobs a year to sustain its young population. Already, meaningfully engaging 62% of the the continent's population which is aged below 25 is a challenge. Young people under 25 represent three-fifths of sub-Saharan Africa’s unemployed population, and 72 percent of them live on less than $2 a day.

Africa must revisit its action plan on youth and discard its long held perception that youth are a time bomb; leaders of tomorrow and tools of political manipulation to settle political scores. The continent's youthful population shows great promise and must be accorded the right exposure, education and innovative skills to enable them be responsible, productive and actively engage the global market. It is in this respect that Nigerian philanthropist Tony Elumelu’s move to invest $100 million to kick-start hundreds of new small businesses amongst Africa's youth should be emulated.

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