Friday, July 1 2022

Responsible leadership remains one of the greatest development challenges in Africa. African leaders have not always responded effectively to the continent’s needs, but there is hope in the rising generation of young people who could play a critical role in strengthening accountability for economic transformation, representation and leadership. successful public service. The urgency of these efforts is not lost on young people, for they have the most to lose if solutions are not adopted.

By 2030, 375 million young people in Africa will reach working age, a population equivalent to the combined population of Canada and the United States. Just two years ago, the International Labor Organization reported that 160.8 million young people in emerging and developing countries were living in poverty, that is, on less than $ 3.10 a day. with young women and minorities disproportionately affected. Youth unemployment, which fell from 11.6% to 11.2% in sub-Saharan Africa from 2008 to 2018, still needs a lot of work to decrease even further. Part of the solution will be to strengthen democracy and systems of governance across the continent.

Many countries that were swept away by the global wave of democratization and liberalization in the 1990s now face weak institutions and fail to meet the basic needs of citizens. Despite notable progress, too many citizens still face insufficient security, poor health care and education, unemployment, illegitimate elections, inadequate justice systems, and challenges to free expression and freedom. participation in civil society. But, young people across the continent are important in creating structural change.

Youth in power: a seat at the table is not enough

According to current figures, 70 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 30, which represents about 743 million of the 1.061 billion inhabitants of this region. This population explosion has important implications for economic activity, the provision of public services and the stability of the state. By 2050, one in three young people in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa. Given the high unemployment rate and vulnerable employment rates of young people, the group most at stake, young African leaders deserve to be part of the policy discussions that seek to find solutions to the employment challenge.

Most African leaders are 55 or older, some up to 75 years old. This represents a significant gap between those who decide the policies and those who must bear the effects. At parliamentary level, only 14% of deputies are under 40 years old. African parliamentary compositions reflect the global trend, where only 14.2 percent of the world’s parliamentarians are under 40. With African countries poised to account for half of the world’s population growth and an exponential increase in the number of young people, the number of young parliamentarians is expected to be higher.

In addition, young people must occupy more places in the presidencies, the councils of ministers, the parliaments, the national committees, the boards of directors of the companies and the organizational teams of the civil society.

Several programs already exist for the inclusion of young people in decision-making bodies, including the United Nations Population Fund’s Global Youth Advisory Group and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But beyond symbolic memberships and leading roles, young people should be fully invested with effective and executive responsibilities.

On the continent, some young people have been appointed ministers at the age of 35, as in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire or Botswana. However, these outliers do not constitute the critical mass necessary for change.

Young leaders must have the courage to apply for official positions, and current leaders must be prepared to hand over important tasks to innovative ideas and the influence of young people. The number of young leaders must be higher given the demographics of the continent.

When young leaders reach positions of influence, they must focus on building strong institutions for accountability and educating people about the importance of broad accountability for a prosperous continent. Countries with the highest levels of responsibility collectively outperform those with lower levels. Young leaders can advance the growth of civil society, poverty reduction, economic expansion and innovation across the continent by strengthening the participation of women and youth, promoting human rights, facilitating ” access to justice and ensuring the inclusion of all communities.

The future of Africa and the world

Young leaders are ready to take hold of powerful organizations, institutions and groups because they have already led change at the social level. According to the African Leadership Institute report, “An abundance of young African leaders but no seats at the table,” around 700,000 young Africans have already been exposed to some form of selective leadership initiative, so the challenge now is to tap into these pools of young leaders.

Youth-led movements like Y’en a marre in Senegal and Balai Citoyen in Burkina Faso bear witness to the capacity of young Africans to strengthen constitutional accountability at the presidential level. Through self-organization and the integration of technology, young people have improved the implementation of programs and policies. Young people in Kenya, for example, used technology to track violence across their country in 2010 and increased the political participation of their wider communities in the reporting process.

But to fully capture the impact of young people on the economy and governance in Africa, more formal monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should be designed to monitor and strengthen the engagement of young people at all levels of society. The implementation of reliable evaluation systems will also lead to more effective participation, representation and political influence of young people if decision-makers adopt corrective policies such as capacity building, quotas for elected positions, ministries and boards of directors of public enterprises, among others. This assessment process should simultaneously identify opportunities to improve policy-making structures to meet the urgent needs of all Africans. Effective and responsible leadership at all levels of society is the key to unlocking the potential of African youth to create economic, political and social policies for their bright future.

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