April 6, 2014 • 1 min
Africa has the fastest growing and most youthful population in the world. Over 40% are under the age of 15 and 20% are between the ages of 15 and 24, which can be said to be the definition of youth all over the world. These statistics present a serious challenge. Can Africa seize the opportunities being presented, or do Africa’s youth constitute a ticking, demographic time-bomb? Despite sub-Saharan Africa recording an average annual economic growth rate of 6%, this remarkable and rapid growth has often been non-inclusive, and it has become increasingly clear that insufficient attention has been paid to the creation of employment opportunities for young people. The current demographic trend only worsens the problem as the pressure to create new jobs will increase markedly over the coming decades, if what is known as the ‘demographic dividend’ is not realized. One definition of the demographic dividend is a large workforce that creates a window of opportunity to invest in the education and health of their children, increase economic outputs and invest more in technology and skills to strengthen the economy. It is a stage that the most successful developing economies experience. Indeed, as much as one third of East Asia’s economic miracle was closely associated with demographic change.