On African Development and Youth Diaspora: An interview from Austria to Africa

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“African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe” project established by a group of youth workers and experts in Europe, aims to share experiences and best practices to empower youth by building their capacity, leadership skills, responsibilities and providing access to information in policy making and project initiatives, so they can truly and actively participate in their societies.

The Forum is the first of its kind held in Europe and presents a significant opportunity for African leaders and youth to network and work closely together in order to coordinate international dialogue amongst important stakeholders for African development. Specifically, through panel discussions, lectures and training sessions, tackle topics such as: access to quality jobs, entrepreneurship, economic development, Afro-Euro cooperation etc.

This year second Forum edition gathered, from 8-11 June in the United Nations Headquarters Vienna, experts, leaders, business-owners, change makers and more than 200 of young people from all around Europe and the global – toward development of African continent, as well as better position of African youth in the Diaspora.

“YouthVoice” caught up with Mr. Youssouf Simbo Diakité -the President and COE of ADYFE- for a brief chat, ahead of the youthful gathering in Vienna and ADYFE project.

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Ms. Sana: First Mr. Youssouf, we congratulate the ADYFE Committee Members on the successful event in Vienna. ADYFE had a large coverage in Europe and Africa, can you tell us briefly about the key ingredients success of ADYFE?

Mr. Youssouf: Thank you Ms. Sana for having me, this is very interesting question, and to be frank with you; ADYFE success keys could be explained in different levels, first the honest partnership and the trust among our partners; are the reason of their sustain support to our cause. Also, the presence of more than 200 participants in the forum explains their interest to be part of the change, our strategy was to make them the focal point of the decision making; we had youth representative in every ADYFE activity: in the discussion panels, workshops, trainings, moderation…

The team hard work is the fruit of ADYFE feat; we are a group of ambitious skilled young people from Europe and Africa, we work for one shared objective which is the future development. This year we had a very limited time to organize the event, but we manage to make this year forum a very successful one.

The combination of these three elements make ADYFE what it is today.

Ms. Sana: The target group of the event was “Youth Diaspora”, what does that mean to you? Why this focus on “Youth Diaspora”?

Mr. Youssouf: We are Youth Diaspora, we live in Europe but we are from Africa, we face the same challenges, and we have the same vision for the development of Africa, the focus on youth Diaspora is related to the missing gap in Africa, Youth Diaspora is the bridge connection that Africa needs and one of the answer for the African development. I believe in the Youth Diaspora contribution to the African progress in terms of remittances, direct investments and entrepreneurship, knowledge, and their diverse experiences. ADYFE believes the Diaspora has the potential to make the change that we contributing in.

Ms. Sana: Can you tell us more about the idea behind creating ADYFE?

Mr. Youssouf: The idea behind ADYFE is to create a platform where youth and experts meet and discuss the challenges of diaspora, provide them with appropriate information and also facilitate their return back home with projects in their hands. ADYFE creation was to fill in the missing gap and be the intermediate space to empower Youth Diaspora and accelerate youth programs and their capacity buildings.

The vision is to institutionalize ADYFE to make it part of the decision, to be the main network in the African development and the focal point of human and financial resources, to be the place where we can influence the decision makers and take youth recommendations into consideration.

We aim to make ADYFE the network where youth, expert, governments, promote entrepreneurship, African development, cooperation and intercultural dialogue.

Ms. Sana: Could you describe the impacts you want to achieve through ADYFE?

Mr. Youssouf: ADYFE project is part of 70000 organizations working for same objective, the impact we want to achieve is to link these organizations and work together for one same Diaspora project back home; then we will reach the Diaspora Africa Dream. If we link human power, resources, and the potential of these organizations, its impact will be huge contribution on the acceleration of the African development.

Ms. Sana: We’ve heard that ADYFE is an annual event, what are your next steps and programs for next year?

Mr. Youssouf: For the moment we want to organize a follow up program of the two editions we had, an occasion where we will study the impacts of our two editions on youth needs.

Next year event will be organized depending on the needs of the participants; we measure their needs, their appreciation, through personal evaluation where they express their ideas and recommendations.

We promise for a creative and innovative edition next year!

Ms. Sana: This year ADYFE edition was rich in terms of program sessions, workshops, panel discussions, many high-level personalities took part of the event, and we’ve heard also that many known business leaders came like Wati-b, how do you maintain this richness?

Mr. Youssouf: we make our partners, speakers and guests are part of the dialogue; we make them believe in our idea.

Each year is a new challenge; we need to come up with new innovative concept, strategic planning, and creative program sessions to maintain our partnerships. This requires a lot of work and patience.

We maintain this richness by our continuous hard work, we believe in our cause and we make them believe as well.

Ms. Sana: Very interesting! What is your vision for Africa?

Mr. Youssouf: My vision for Africa is to be peaceful continent, where everyone is empowered, equal and educated. This would have a great impact on the development of Africa; the only place where my heart beats.

Ms. Sana: Very powerful statement! Thank you so much for your devoted time, “YouthVoice” wishes you all the best for your next events.

Mr Youssouf: Thank you for having me!

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If women’s entrepreneurship was not only a female Agenda!

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A number of studies and researches over the past years have highlighted that gender equality is a smart economic tool. The unexploited potential of women is a lost opportunity for economic progress and development. Women’s economic participation promotes agricultural productivity, enterprise expansion at the micro and macro, small and medium enterprise levels, in addition to improving business management and returns on investments.

Besides boosting economic growth, investing in women has multiplier effects; women plow a large portion of their income in their families and communities. Women play crucial role in creating peaceful and stable societies which are important factors for economic growth. Regrettably, even these benefits have been universally recognized and have therefore not translated into women’s full economic participation, especially in Africa, where women still face obstacles when establishing new businesses or even increasing existing ones. Among the biggest obstacles are discriminatory laws, regulations and business conditions, with women’s lack of access to property rights, finance, training, technology, markets, mentors, and networks. We can only imagine one of the reasons behind the lack of economic development of Africa when half of the population is discriminated from full participation in the economic level.

Although there has been current focus on developing women’s entrepreneurship in Africa, this spotlight has been on growth-oriented women’s businesses. Women’s entrepreneurship in micro and small business that are often measured as informal, regardless of these concentrated efforts of poverty reduction initiatives through increased access to skills training and micro-credit, still have not been able to reach the growth potential among women.

The role of women in African economies is more emphasized in recent years by ensuring gender equality and women empowerment among Africans. But the fact is that women have less access to resources, education and health facilities in most of the African countries, where women are half the workforce. Greater participation of women in economic activities is the major concern of most of the countries in Africa, which is considered as one of the best tools to achieve and attain a sustain development in Africa. Africa cannot manage to attain a development if half of its population is discriminated and ignored from local and national policies.

African governments need to show more financial aid to support efforts to increase women’s access to quality financial services; there is an urge need to highlight women’s crucial role in advancing agricultural development and food security, and encourage policy and programmatic support for female farmers and agricultural businesses owned by women, and reform the policy to facilitating the processes for women in this field.

More support to NGOs, industry associations, and corporations advocating for policy and programmatic solutions that would enable women’s economic participation, also enhance more technology Access and providing access to mobile phones, Internet, and other vital technologies along with addressing cultural, financial, educational barriers…

Provide capacity building, trainings, and mentoring programs to women and girls and equip them with market information, entrepreneurship opportunities, and the necessary skills to attain economic independence; and Encourage best practices to increase women’s leadership in the sector of business and entrepreneurship;

Government states need to find a solution to one of the biggest obstacles in Africa which is Data Collection; endorse the collection and configuration of gender data in the economic sector to create evidence-based policy and programs aimed at increasing women’s economic participation across all sectors.

If women’s entrepreneurship was not only a female Agenda, Africa would be different.

Youth Policy in Africa: a promising future for the African development?

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This article was published on Foresight For Development: http://www.foresightfordevelopment.org/featured/gender-equality-2

“There is nothing about youth, without youth”  – Sana Afouaiz

Young people are perceived to be an important strength of Africa, as well as globally. This urges a necessity for practical policies and related programs that engage youth successfully in all aspects of growth of their countries.

Today, Africa needs more than ever to address the necessity of implementing youth policies to support the development and inclusion of the young generation. One of the biggest challenges facing governments in Africa is providing employment opportunities for more than 200 million young people so that they can have decent lives and contribute to the social and economic development of their countries.

The establishment of youth policies in Africa is quite difficult because of limited data which delays the measurement of the well-being of the African youth. Although the available data says that the youth population is largely growing, African youth has educational attainment but at the same time high unemployment rates.

Also, the lack of a universal definition of “youth” makes measuring the youth problems in Africa more difficult and the comparison of data across countries less consistent. The youth population in Africa consists of about 200 million – 20 percent of its population of more than 1 billion. This is a very large population.

In order to find effective youth policies, it is important to deal with the challenges facing youth, such as the lack of access to quality education; high rates of unemployment; and huge numbers of people suffering from poverty, political non-engagement and poor environmental health.

Previous policies and actions implemented have not successfully addressed the challenges of the youth, for example, the high unemployment rates, especially among women with significant regional differences and unpleasant consequences such as poverty, migration and diseases. Moreover, information on the development and implementation of youth policies in Africa are hard to find, even though countries of the region are at different stages in their youth policies process. Nevertheless, the estimation of problems facing young people is being compromised by data limitations. These limitations are reflected in the lack of jobs and youth economic growth agendas; a lack of comprehensive youth policy and the absence of its integration into national development plans. The African governments lack the capacity to assume comprehensive monitoring and evaluative processes.

An overview of the situation in African countries – although regions may differ – highlights several priority areas, particularly education, employment, health conditions and political participation, in addition to gender issues.

The economic issues concerned include how to deal with the huge youth unemployment rates by using an integrated approach and implementing various labor market policies. In order to achieve that, the national policies need to foster formal education – quality education – and training to increase opportunities for skilled youth who are ready for the job market.

In most African countries, cultural oppressions limit opportunities for youth to express themselves and to meaningfully participate in national social and political dialogue. Broad-based participation of the youth would advance good governance to improve democracy in the region.

There is a lack of comprehensive youth policies which are not part of the national development plans because neither human nor financial resources are devoted to youth issues. This has resulted in governments lacking the capacity to assume comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of processes.

The key recommendations arising from this analysis spotlight on harnessing the potential of African youth to boost economic development in the labor market to improve their living conditions. Also, boosting their participation in the political level is important in order to meet their needs.

It is important to expand infrastructure, especially in rural areas, to boost employment opportunities for youth;

Provide quality education for young people, training and informal programs and create youth employment opportunities for skilled persons;

African governments need to build institutional quality policies so as to respond effectively to the needs of individuals and organizations.

One of the most important steps in advancing the youth policy field in Africa is to develop the quality and scope of data of youth in Africa. Lack of reliable data leads to non-understanding of the issues and thus the inability to solve them: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

It is highly recommended for policy-makers to establish a continuous evaluation approach in which they can test whether policies and actions have an impact on youth.

Also, governments need to include gender issues in their policies because females have been neglected despite their potential to contribute to the wealth of African countries.

Africa’s youth population is expected to grow in the upcoming years while the youth population in other parts of the world declines. Africa is the youngest continent in the world with about 70 percent of its population being 30 years of age or younger.

It is time to stand up, act and change! There will be no future development in Africa if its countries don’t invest in their youth. The richness of Africa is in its youth – something to appreciate and save.

 Sana AFOUAIZ

Youth unemployment in Africa, whom to blame?

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Do the African governments establish any national plans to confront the economic crisis facing their youth? Are Africans in Diaspora a forgotten element of the African economic development?

Who should be blamed? The foreign colonization? The African governments? Or the youth themselves?

One of the biggest challenges facing governments in Africa is providing employment opportunities for more than 200 million young people so that they can have decent lives and contribute to the social and economic development of their countries.

Actually Africa has the fastest population growth predictable between now and 2050 and the youngest population in the world. It is decisive that governments react towards this youth growth into national and social development planning.

Youth employment challenges in Africa are most of the time perceived as a result of rapid population growth rates, and then it becomes hard to control and to correspond to all the needs. Actually, it is not the numbers of young people that has led unemployment, but lack of specific structural strategic planning where it should meet the needs of every individual country. It is not possible to apply the same plan confrontation of economic problems to all African countries, since every country has its specific characteristics and needs, African governments need to inspire from example models but implement it within the conditions and the priorities of their home countries.

It is true that a growing youth population is a challenge for Africa today, but it cannot be the reason behind the unemployment figures in Africa. These figures are largely the results of specific economic and political behaviors. Like for example: lack of investments in infrastructure and enhancing sectors with potential for creating jobs, lack of evaluating and developing policies on economic growth in Africa, lack of investing in rural areas and rural youth.

One of the biggest losses of Africa today, is the lack of communicating and investing in youth in the Diaspora, youth Diaspora is outstandingly situated to contribute to boosting the economic growth and prosperity in Africa, and they bring a unique point of views to the discourse on Africa because they have experienced both worlds. They often choose to stay in their host countries because of the lack of not only investing on them, but also lack of decent jobs and complexity of procedures to implement their projects that would lead to economic growth, which in the other hand easier in their host countries, by that Africa loses a rich contributor element and call for professional foreign help.

Levels of education in Africa are moderately low creating a suitable skills gap among youth at working age. This generates lack of skills meeting the needs of the job market.

Though young people today are better educated than their parents, they remain about twice as likely to be unemployed than their elders. This is partially because of a divergence between their skills and what the work market is seeking for.

The African Development Bank estimated that 25% of African youths are still illiterate and even though a rise in primary school enrolment, the lack of skills levels in the workforce will continue to be a crucial problem facing Africa, unless African governments start to develop educational strategy that meet the job market.

In fact, there are some initiatives launched to confront this issue, for example in Senegal, there is an initiative called the Agence d’Exécution des Travaux d’Intéret Public, where unemployed youth are trained before getting permanent jobs. In Burkina Faso, through a project, student attend school and at the same time work as trainee to learn industry specific skills.

Nonetheless, with increasing numbers of youth population, these few initiatives aren’t able enough to face the unemployment issue and the difficulties that come with it.

We often hear that the lack of development in Africa is due to the colonization effects, well many countries of the world have been colonized but moved on, including developing countries, sometimes I think Africans are colonized in their minds when they keep holding the idea of blaming the current situation on history colonization even though there might be an effect, but our concern is to find out solutions and to move forward, make a development not as a desire but as an action. Africans need to look on the future and stop looking back on the past.

The relationship between population and youth unemployment is very complicated. As populations increase, concentrated efforts are needed to be done to avoid the youth exclusion from work market and lack of economic growth. To do this, African countries need to address the economic growth issues through transformative economic and social policies.

It is our duties as individual as well to find solutions, to contribute in an innovative way to develop our communities and countries, it always starts with oneself.

As Socrates said: “THE SECRET OF CHANGE lS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD BUT ON BUILDING THE NEW”.

Sana AFOUAIZ

Morocco between the African and the Arab Identity

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This short article is dedicated for all the Africans that said I’m not African and all the Arabs who said I’m not Arab.

The question of the Moroccan identity seems to be a debate that I always have to explain whenever I travel, especially when I meet some of my Africans and Arabs fellows, so Africans would ask me “where are you from?”, me” Morocco”, them: “Ah, you are an Arab who don’t admit the African origins”, then Arabs ask the same and then say “Oh you are the ones who don’t speak Arabic only French”. I’m not saying all the Africans and Arabs think the same way, but these answers and questions I’ve heard from many of them. Then I had to explain that Moroccan identity is mixed between the Arab, African and Amazighi culture, which make Morocco one of most diverse countries, with different languages, ethnics, cultures… But for some it seems not easy to understand.

This question is periphrastic, Morocco is situated at the peak of the African continent, and it stretches itself along the top of the Sahara all the way down to sub-Saharan Africa. It is linked to the Middle East as it shares the same mother tongue language and the same religions -Arabs are not only Muslims, There are Christian and Jews Arabs- and approximately the same political and social challenges.

Morocco is connected as well to Europe for the economic relations that gather not only Morocco to European Union, but as well Africa to Europe. Also, Morocco was colonized by France, so don’t get surprised when you hear a Moroccan speaking half French half Moroccan. To be honest, the French influence has dominant effects on the way Moroccans speak; you should expect that with some Moroccans you will have to speak French, otherwise you are underestimated. It is advantageous to master different languages, but it is bad when people are treated according to their level of French speaking.

Speaking of “Africanism”, which is far more imposing when studying Morocco’s history. Some of my African friends told me once “You guys aren’t Africans because you aren’t part of the African Union, you left the AU, so how come you consider yourselves Africans!”-i won’t answer this because it’s very political subject that will lead to another debate which is not the focus of this article- But anyway, Morocco is situated in the North of Africa, which means that geographically Morocco is an African country, if Morocco left the African Union, that’s because of a political reason, but Morocco still one of the most active African countries investing in Africa and it constitutes an open economic gate for sub-Saharan countries toward Europe.

From the other hand, I asked some Moroccans “Are you African?” and I got the most shocking answers -which is common between the North Africans though- they said:” Not really, Africans are black, but I’m not black” , and I was like “Should I be black do to be called African?”

Morocco politically and economically is focusing on Africa in the recent years, as many projects have been implemented so to foster the global economic of Africa. This shows how important Africa is for Morocco.

Now let’s talk about the Amazighi identity, the Amazighi people who constitute about 48 % of the population, which is the native identity of Morocco before the Arabs came to spread Islam religion, Arabs and Amazighi from then lived peacefully together and then founded the Moroccan identity, a mixture between the two identities, till 1930 when the Amazighi culture was denied and then divided the Arabs and the Amazighi, it was the easiest way for French colonizers to control the country, but even after the independence, Amazighi still didn’t feel conformable to speak Amazighi in public places or even to tell that they are Amazighi. From then on, there still stereotypes between the two groups which normally should constitute one group.

The situation has been improved now, as the language became official in the Morocco constitution, and the identity of Tamazight has been more and more integrated.

Arabs from the other hand criticize Morocco for not speaking pure Arabic in every daily life, but wait, there are no Arabs that speak exactly classical Arabic in their daily life, they speak Arabic accent like Egyptian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Jordanian… These are accent not classical Arabic language; though it is true that Moroccan dialect is different since it is a mixture between Arabic, Tamazight, French and Spanish, but just because the other Arabs can’t understand the Moroccan accent, it doesn’t means that Moroccans don’t master the classical Arabic, for those who don’t know Arabic is the first official language of Morocco.

I believe that diversity is richness. I have always felt fortunate for the diversity in my country. I admire the fact that everything is different and yet so much alike. What I don’t like are the divisions that are based on such differences that should not minimize who we are or anyone else.

In Morocco, we can never speak of a pure race or ethnicity, everything is bonded and intermixed.

I believe this categorization of people is preposterous, since it disturbs our wonders from the beauty of us as diverse; a fusion and combination. We spend so much time identifying differences and putting barriers between “us” and “them”; whoever “us” and “them” are.

Next time don’t ask me to choose whether I’m African or Arab, and don’t you dare to question if I’m Amazighi or Arab. I’m Moroccan, I’m mixture between them all, I’m African, I’m Arab, I’m Amazighi, I’m Andaloussi…

What difference would that make to you now? Would you treat me any different? Better or worse?

International Youth Conference-Youth in Diaspora, a means to support development

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Meet the President of “VAS” Mr. Youssouf:

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The “International Youth Conference: Youth in Diaspora, a means to support development” was organized by VAS Austria from 22-24 October 2014 in Vienna, in collaboration with UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) and the partnership of Austrian Development Cooperation/Agency (ADA).

The Conference was the first of its kind held in Europe and presents an undeniable opportunity for African leaders and Ambassadors, diplomats, foreign policy & development experts and UN officials to work closely together and coordinate international dialogue amongst important stakeholders for African development, which will produce real benefits for young Africans in terms of entrepreneurship and sustainable development of the region.

Participants benefited from different trainings, workshops, and got the chance to be presidents of Africans countries in the Model of African Union, an opportunity that led them to discover about African countries that they didn’t know before, and exercise the same duty as leaders which is the decision making and speaking out in the name of the citizens.

An important session in the event was dedicated to understand the opportunities and the challenges facing Africa in creating decent jobs for its youth.

The experts discussed the definition of decent job, its characteristic and the role the diaspora can play in the development of jobs in Africa and Europe.

Mr. Charles Dan, the International Labor Organization Representative, mentioned that in the last years many young men and women were rated unemployed, this crisis touched Africa in a very critical way. In sub-Saharan countries, finding jobs it is just another challenging story that faces young Africans.

Mr. Charles said: “In Africa we don’t have a decent job; we strive for jobs with quality. Decent jobs are based on quality and respect and promotion of the international standards and guaranteeing insurance security”

What do we need to do to have a better rate of job creation in Africa?

Mr. Charles insists on the necessity to launch developed economic policies and make these policies a priority, invest in the economic strategies is the only way to create jobs in Africa.

In the other hand, Africans in Diaspora most of the time don’t return to their home countries because of the lack of getting decent jobs, the lack of experienced professionals pushes Africa to look for foreign people for work. Investing in providing decent jobs for African Diaspora is a crucial.

Africa is missing a clear and well-organized methodology to address the issue of employment among Africans; Africa needs to start with this to confront this issue.

Africans need to be provided by loans, opportunities of entrepreneurship and companies ownership, Africans need to be trained to be competent which will make Africa rely on itself instead of asking foreign help, also gender equality orientation and protection should be ensured. Communication and connection between Africa and the diaspora is very important for the development of business in the region.

Mr. Djibril Coulibaly, United Nations Industrial Development Organization Representative, believes that the question on how to achieve job creation opportunities is related to the level of commitment and investments that African leaders show towards this issue, he insists on the need for practical actions instead of continuous political speeches, the real work in the reality.

The question of creation of jobs is a problem of all countries, especially the sub Saharan countries, each year Africa ends up with 11 million of young people who join the job market, but the question do we have this job market?

Mr. Djibril Coulibaly invites Africa to think about the necessity of providing satisfied jobs and not only remunerable jobs where Africans can improve their knowledge and creativity.

While Mr. Jesse Ojbor, UNIDO Representative, insists on the importance of Africans in Diaspora in bring out global jobs connections opportunities into Africa, which will boost the international economy of the region.

He highlighted also the definition of youth age that differs from a country to another in Africa which influences the vision of providing jobs for youth. He stressed on the fact that Africans today can play a brain drain and a brain gain role. In fact, he believes that Africans wherever they are, they can help in the economic development of their countries, he gave an illustrative example of an African who sends money to his mom and who uses it in an entrepreneurship project of hers, which in the other side helps in shifting the economic situation of his country.

Mr. Malick Sy, UNIDO Senegal Representative, invites the African governments to provide their youth with quality education, trainings and work experiences, and then Africa won’t need foreign professionals.

Mr. Malick believes that public and private sector need to work together for the development of the region, by that coordinating strategies and efforts.

Mr. Mohamed Yahya Murad, Board Member of Bahrain Voluntary Work Society, shared his experience to empower youth employment in Bahrain through his project “Tamkin”, that provides financial and advisory aid to meet the needs of the Bahraini youth, and lead them to meet the economic vision of the country.

The event was a successful beneficial for the Youth from Africa and Europe, as many of them shared their hunger to make change once they get back home, because they believe that it is time for action.

Sana AFOUAIZ

Youth Policy in Africa: a promising future for the African development?

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This article was published on “Foresight for Development”, check: http://www.foresightfordevelopment.org/featured/gender-equality-2

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“There is nothing about youth, without youth”  – Sana Afouaiz

Young people are perceived to be an important strength of Africa, as well as globally. This urges a necessity for practical policies and related programs that engage youth successfully in all aspects of growth of their countries.

Today, Africa needs more than ever to address the necessity of implementing youth policies to support the development and inclusion of the young generation. One of the biggest challenges facing governments in Africa is providing employment opportunities for more than 200 million young people so that they can have decent lives and contribute to the social and economic development of their countries.

The establishment of youth policies in Africa is quite difficult because of limited data which delays the measurement of the well-being of the African youth. Although the available data says that the youth population is largely growing, African youth has educational attainment but at the same time high unemployment rates.

Also, the lack of a universal definition of “youth” makes measuring the youth problems in Africa more difficult and the comparison of data across countries less consistent. The youth population in Africa consists of about 200 million – 20 percent of its population of more than 1 billion. This is a very large population.

In order to find effective youth policies, it is important to deal with the challenges facing youth, such as the lack of access to quality education; high rates of unemployment; and huge numbers of people suffering from poverty, political non-engagement and poor environmental health.

Previous policies and actions implemented have not successfully addressed the challenges of the youth, for example, the high unemployment rates, especially among women with significant regional differences and unpleasant consequences such as poverty, migration and diseases. Moreover, information on the development and implementation of youth policies in Africa are hard to find, even though countries of the region are at different stages in their youth policies process. Nevertheless, the estimation of problems facing young people is being compromised by data limitations. These limitations are reflected in the lack of jobs and youth economic growth agendas; a lack of comprehensive youth policy and the absence of its integration into national development plans. The African governments lack the capacity to assume comprehensive monitoring and evaluative processes.

An overview of the situation in African countries – although regions may differ – highlights several priority areas, particularly education, employment, health conditions and political participation, in addition to gender issues.

The economic issues concerned include how to deal with the huge youth unemployment rates by using an integrated approach and implementing various labor market policies. In order to achieve that, the national policies need to foster formal education – quality education – and training to increase opportunities for skilled youth who are ready for the job market.

In most African countries, cultural oppressions limit opportunities for youth to express themselves and to meaningfully participate in national social and political dialogue. Broad-based participation of the youth would advance good governance to improve democracy in the region.

There is a lack of comprehensive youth policies which are not part of the national development plans because neither human nor financial resources are devoted to youth issues. This has resulted in governments lacking the capacity to assume comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of processes.

The key recommendations arising from this analysis spotlight on harnessing the potential of African youth to boost economic development in the labor market to improve their living conditions. Also, boosting their participation in the political level is important in order to meet their needs.

It is important to expand infrastructure, especially in rural areas, to boost employment opportunities for youth;

Provide quality education for young people, training and informal programs and create youth employment opportunities for skilled persons;

African governments need to build institutional quality policies so as to respond effectively to the needs of individuals and organizations.

One of the most important steps in advancing the youth policy field in Africa is to develop the quality and scope of data of youth in Africa. Lack of reliable data leads to non-understanding of the issues and thus the inability to solve them: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

It is highly recommended for policy-makers to establish a continuous evaluation approach in which they can test whether policies and actions have an impact on youth.

Also, governments need to include gender issues in their policies because females have been neglected despite their potential to contribute to the wealth of African countries.

Africa’s youth population is expected to grow in the upcoming years while the youth population in other parts of the world declines. Africa is the youngest continent in the world with about 70 percent of its population being 30 years of age or younger.

It is time to stand up, act and change! There will be no future development in Africa if its countries don’t invest in their youth. The richness of Africa is in its youth – something to appreciate and save.

 

Sana AFOUAIZ