The recent African Youth Survey (AYS) made for grim reading. He revealed that 52% of young Africans plan to go abroad in the next three years because the outlook in their country is bleak.
This was a sea change, as the previous 2020 survey found that more than two-thirds of young people wanted to stay in Africa.
In some countries like Nigeria and Sudan, the number was 75%.
Frustration over long-standing issues, including lack of work opportunities, violence, political and social oppression and poverty, was compounded in the 2022 survey by damage to lives and means subsistence by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In almost all countries, at least two-thirds of young people said their country was going in the wrong direction, with the exception of Rwanda and Ghana, where 60% and 56% respectively thought their country was going in the right direction .
Looking at Africa as a whole, only in Ghana do a majority of young people believe that Africa is moving in the right direction.
The picture painted is not encouraging, but on closer reflection, perhaps African youth are not turning away from flight as a response to miserable conditions.
The same survey revealed that 78% of them plan to start their own business within the next five years.
Among other things, this tells us that they have no faith in systems and governments, and that they plan to break away from the status quo and the “wazee” dominated space and create their own world. .
Delightfully, 74% of them consider democracy the preferable form of government, so that the failure of popular movements and the corruption of politics have not killed the majority’s faith in good responsible governance. Even more encouraging, 85% of young people think that more needs to be done to fight climate change.
In the future, AYS might want to do a survey on why young Africans who do not plan to emigrate want to stay. It’s always the brave — and sometimes suicidal — few who bring change and point us to the resources that build great societies.
A few days ago, a pro-Kenyan army tweep posted an insightful tweet. Arguing why ensuring peace was really important, he said people settle in peaceful places, not beautiful ones.
A few years ago, a survey by the Center for the Study of Adolescence in Nairobi asked young Kenyans what matters most to their country and their lives. It was a time when there was a big outcry about corruption, tribalism and the usual things that exercise Kenyan political life. None of these were a priority for young people.
Their biggest fear was that they would be killed in a crime. He beat unemployment and everything else. And young Kenyan women were terrified of bringing children to the country they had, and they were more afraid of getting pregnant than of being infected with HIV/AIDS.
That’s why I think if there is only one thing that African governments can do to maintain optimism.
Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, writer and curator of the “Wall of Great Africans”. [email protected]