Youth Unemployment In Africa- A Time Bomb And A Contributing Factor To Underdevelopment
Africa has the largest “youth bulge” in the World and the number of youth is expected to grow by 42.5 million between 2010 and 2020, at the same time the youth account for 60% of all African unemployed, according to the World Bank. It is estimated that almost half of the 10 million graduates churned out of the over 668 universities in Africa yearly do not get jobs.
The rate of youth unemployment is worrisome in Africa. As a result the African youth is despaired and disillusioned and many of them have opted to leave the shores of the continent, at the peril of their lives, in the search for greener pastures elsewhere particularly in Europe through dangerous means. Every day many young people are losing their lives in the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea in their attempt to illegally migrate. Life has become worthless for them.
Experts have argued that youth unemployment and underemployment are among the main barriers to development in West Africa. It is known that, not only does the exclusion of young people from labour force perpetuate generational cycles of poverty; it also breaks down social cohesion and can be associated with high levels of crime and violence among idle youth.
This year’s International Youth Day is marked under the theme “The Road to 2030- Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”. But how can poverty be eradicated in Africa while an important segment of the people such as the young people is sitting idle? Paradoxically the frightening youth unemployment is happening while the African continent is experiencing a fast and steady economic growth.
The consequences of the youth unemployment cannot be but dangerous for the overall developmental process of the continent. This situation calls for a more serious thinking on the part of all Africans particularly the leaders for a paradigm shift in the pursuance of the goals of our socio-economic and political advancement.
It is important to recognize that centuries of slavery and colonialism have left serious mental and psychological impacts on the peoples of Africa. Hence Africans have not developed till today any system neither political nor educational based on our socio-cultural realities rather everything is copied or imported from outside especially from our former colonial masters.
But are Africans still not matured enough, after more than 50 years of independence, to think, plan and handle their own affairs?
We believe that Africans have the requisite knowledge and capacity to define the developmental course of their continent based on the interests of the people. This could be facilitated by taking advantage of the accumulated experiences acquired by others around the World. Unfortunately selfishness and greed, promoting dishonesty for personal gains, have taken greater part of most of us.
Considering the situation of the African youth, it is imperative to rethink the path we have taken and to put the interests of the people at the center of our developmental goals in order to avert the anger of the young people that can have serious consequences for everybody.
Though some efforts have been undertaken by African governments to solve youth unemployment by creating national youth service and empowerment programmes, they are not enough to bring lasting solutions to this problem. African governments must collectively and genuinely find global solutions to all the challenges facing the continent including youth unemployment by adopting policies and programmes in line with the interests of their people and the socio-economic and cultural African realities.