Africa has been called a lot of names – Dark Continent, The Wild, The Safaris Continent, Third World, Emerging Markets Continent and more recently, Sh ** hole, but it is hardly called the Youth Continent.
It’s no secret that young people are the future of the African continent. They are already emerging and will be the next thought leaders, creators and innovators who will help galvanize the African continent to greater heights.
According to the United Nations in 2015, Africa has 226 million young people aged 15 to 24 and a fifth of the world’s youth population. This means that one in five young people on earth come from Africa. Africa’s youth population is expected to grow by 42% by 2030. There should be a new focus on young people in Africa, as we take a look at how much they currently contribute to the continent.
One area where young people are thriving in Africa is the tech sector. The sector has become an interesting source of foreign direct investment and represented in 2019 nearly half a billion dollars garnered on the continent. In 2020, – the Paystack / Stripes deal grossed around $ 200 million. The growth of technology has created an opportunity for many young Africans to come up with new innovations, which are even more useful in the current economic and social climate affected by the pandemic.
There are several examples of many young Africans using technology to start new businesses. Mike Endale, an Ethiopian American based in Washington, DC who is the director of BLEN Corp, an information technology company that leads the Ethiopia COVID-19 Emergency Technology Volunteer Task Force and helps the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. During the pandemic, they recruited over 1,700 software engineers and even created a COVID-19 response toolkit in Africa.
Another young African who is making strides in the tech scene is Temie Giwa-Tubosun, the founder of LifeBank in Nigeria. Since its inception in 2016, it has helped deliver 22,830 units of blood, according to Next Billion, to hospitals in Nigeria, which help connect donors to blood banks. Next Billion also said that LifeBank is performing COVID-19 tests and providing oxygen to health centers. Lifebank recently expanded into East Africa. In December 20280, the US-Africa Business Center of the US Chamber, in collaboration with the American Business Council Nigeria, recognizing the great impact of start-ups in the wake of the pandemic, inaugurated a digital entrepreneurship competition.
Young Africans are also thriving in the entertainment industry, especially in the music industry. The Afrobeats genre continues to dominate the music world and artists like Burna Boy, Davido, Mr. Eazi and Omah Lay, still in their twenties, spearhead and remain the face of the genre. The international recognition of Afrobeats has given artists more visibility on the world stage. This was the case with Davido, Mr. Eazi and Tiwa Savage, who featured on the cover of Billboard magazine. Music remains of significant importance and young people are an important factor for the success of the industry.
In Nigeria, music revenues increased from $ 26 million in 2014 to $ 34 million in 2018, according to Statista. Music revenue in Nigeria is expected to reach $ 44 million by 2023, as reported by Statista.
African youth are also flying high in the field of sport, especially in football. Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Ihenacho from Nigeria (both players at Leicester City in the English Premier League) come to mind. In addition, Percy Tau, a South African footballer, who was with RSC Anderlecht in Belgium, will now return to his parent club Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League. Tau is playing in an advanced position and he is set to make his debut for the Seagulls (Brighton & Hove Albion) in the 2020-21 Premier League season.
Finally, young people in Africa have also been influential on the activist front, particularly over the past two years. This was evident in October 2020, when several young Nigerians took to the streets to fight police brutality during the SARS protests. In Uganda, musicians like Bobi Wine’s foray into politics first as an MP and presidential candidate are attracting more young people to enter politics.
Other young people like Christelle Kwizera, founder of Water Access Rwanda, got involved in helping communities access water. According to Global Citizen, Kwizera’s plan is to eradicate the water scarcity and provide safe drinking water to people in local communities. Currently, his organization has provided drinking water to 70,000 people in Rwanda. Kwizera’s efforts earned him the Cisco Youth Leadership Award at the Global Citizen Prize 2020.
Young Africans certainly have a lot to offer in several sectors and this would be vital for the growth of the continent. African governments need to understand this and invest meaningfully and sustainably in the youth population in order to reduce the out-migration of migrants.
The enthusiasm, the pace of work and the effort are the reason why the children of Africa today have the opportunity to be wonderful leaders of tomorrow. With the right enabling environment in place, Africa’s future is in good hands.
Written by Paul Olele