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It is challenging being young in Africa. But there are also many reasons to be hopeful for the future, both for the new generation and for the continent.
Youths in Africa are facing difficulties in accessing services like jobs, health, transport, education, and other fundamental areas of life. In most cases, related costs are beyond the reach of most youths or their parents and guardians. The situation has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change-induced calamities such as drought and floods.
Some youths blame their governments for the lack of economic developments in their countries, citing corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, looting of public resources, and others as reasons for their misfortune.
No doubt, this has dampened future prospects for some youths who have ended up engaging in drug abuse, prostitution, and other criminal activities. Nevertheless, youths continue to speak about these issues through various means.
Education and networking central for youths
In countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, youths have joined forces with rebels to fight the government as part of efforts to demand a better life. This signals that young people are still anticipative about the future. They continue to hope for a better future, a better Africa.
Youths who are pursuing education at various levels, be it secondary or tertiary education, still see a brighter future, and that’s the reason why they are pursuing education. In as much as they envision a brighter future, they see networking as crucial to discover more opportunities to connect with people that matter and to catch up with emerging trends in all spheres of life. For networking to be practical and rewarding, youths make use of the internet of things and use apps like Whatsapp and Facebook.
Most young people are optimistic about a better economy arriving that will benefit them once they are done studying, as some of them are even pursuing post-graduate studies hoping that one day life will be better.
Young people also believe networking is the core of any successful venture that one chooses to embark on. Some youths are successfully marketing their “hustles” or projects on social media platforms such as Twitter, Whatsapp, and Facebook. These hustles include poultry, piggery, vehicle maintenance, and others. Others market themselves and display their professional merits on the same platforms hoping to meet their prospective employers there.
Success stories online motivate
Many, however also see a corrupt future where bribing superiors as a way to combat challenges with employability and receive better positions at workplaces, as a part of everyday life. Technological development has played a vital role in this, seeing other success stories on the internet they are also inspired to succeed.
Youths active in the art sector temporarily lost some hope due to the COVID-19 restrictions when it became difficult to perform live shows as they were used to doing. However. with the rollout of vaccination programs and easing of restrictions linked to the pandemic, hope has been restored. Now everyone hopes that the pandemic will be overall together soon so that they go back to their old ways of doing things.
The young people in art are optimistic that if they keep on moving and pursuing their work after the pandemic they would have done a lot and this will open opportunities for them. Technology has played a significant role here, motivating the younger generation through the shows they watch and other performances from different countries showing how it is possible to hold on to the impact of art during the pandemic.
Technological development has also resulted in some youths trying to pursue a foreign culture, a culture that is both alien and expensive to African youths. This idea also left a large number of youths wanting to leave their respective countries for Europe and other parts of the developed world. This practice is rampant in countries such as Somalia, Libya, Ethiopia, and others in North Africa. Youths from countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique often want to go to South Africa in pursuit of greener pastures.
There are also other young people from Southern Africa who see the future being digitalized. In order to be able to fit in the future world many equip themselves with state of the art technologies such as smartphones and laptops. They are optimistic about their career choices and have faith that they will find relevant jobs and will have a better future in the digitalized world. The technological revolution during recent years has contributed to this as they see how everything is being digitalized and how most of the jobs are becoming irrelevant because of robotics.
Reserved parliamentary seats for the young
When it comes to political engagement efforts are made to include the young generation. Laws have been crafted at the country level to better include youths in the political system. For instance, in Zimbabwe, there is a quota system that reserves ten parliamentary seats for youths through proportional representation. Although, the question which continues to be raised is: is this enough? Youths are buoyant that if they get a chance to speak in parliament they would be able to push the provisions enshrined in the African Youth Charter (AYC) and other emerging trends that have a bearing in the lives of youths.
Various youth organizations were formed in pursuit of the same, in Zimbabwe for instance there are organizations as Zimbabwe Youth Council, Youth in Tourism, Youths in Mining, and others with the ambition to propel youth into the main economic streams.
The fact that young people in Africa still demand certain provisions from their governments shows that they are still optimistic about the future, anticipating that one-day decent jobs, affordable and quality health care, as well as quality education, will be granted to them.
What young people on this continent believe and want matters a lot, as in a number of African countries youths constitute as much as 60 percent of the population. Wiseley managed, the potential for Africa is enormous.