Utilizing the Talent of Young Africans

In less than 6000 days from now, there will be over 1 billion young Africans wandering cities looking for jobs. The UN estimates that the continent will be home to 4 billion people by the end of this century. With this projection, the most concerning aspect will be the fact that Africa will have the world’s largest workforce bigger than that of either China or India by 2035

This shows that there is a need for the leaders on the continent to shift their focus towards providing solutions to some of the implications in which this scenario may result. Africa is blessed with so much talent, but unlocking the continent's vast talent pool will not be straightforward. There is little time, coupled with very limited resources. Africa’s growing population size is a potential treasure-trove that encompasses a key element needed for economic growth, which is human capital.  

The growing workforce protuberance will need to be countered with jobs to produce the kind of wealth that the continent needs to fuel its projected economic growth. The continent is already known to have produced some prominent and impactful figures who are changing the world in their various areas of expertise. 

Envision the numerous world-class innovators and entrepreneurs that could emerge from Africa if we took a thoughtful approach to investing in the well-being and brainpower of its young people. African youth, if educated and empowered, can offer the energy and resourcefulness required to unravel solutions many global challenges such as climate change, food security, unemployment, infrastructure, gender inequity, urbanization, healthcare, poverty reduction, and education.  

The populace of young people is mounting fast in Africa, even as figures of young people are likely to decline in other parts of the world, according to the current UN Secretary-General’s report on world demographic trends. There are tremendous talents in Africa: the continent is home to the world’s youngest population with an average age of 19.5 years old compared to the likes of Japan and Germany with 46 and 47 years respectively. Young people are hungry in search of opportunities with limited scope and reach.  They are willing to learn, adapt to new ways of doing things and are open to all forms of opportunities that may fall their way.  These young must be engaged and must be given an avenue to challenge themselves to develop their talents, whether it’s through music, art, agriculture, IT; whatever it is that they find, they should be given the right platforms to express themselves.

It is important that the government, corporations, and individuals become responsive to young people’s needs and demands. Young citizens tend to understand what it will take to achieve socioeconomic and human development and serve as the backbone for economic transformation. In order to fully tap into the capabilities of young people, it is essential that there are more investments channelled towards education and entrepreneurship. By empowering young people with the relevant skills and entrepreneurial platforms, the continent will be able to fully harness the full potential of these young people.