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Humans · Economy

Does the future of Africa's youth lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea?

June 13th, 2016
in:Humans, Economy
by:Israel Bionyi
located in:Zambia, Greece, Italy, Turkey
tags:Adesina Akinwumi, Africa’s youth, African Development Bank, Carlos Lopes, Nuru Hassan Omar, UNECA

Too many African youngsters have died in the Mediterranean Sea. The President of the African Development Bank has promised a youth strategy creating 25 million jobs and impacting 50 million young Africans in the next 10 years.

“The future of Africa's youth does not lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. It lies in a more prosperous and inclusive Africa – one that promotes creativity and innovation, that expands economic opportunities for the youth. It lies in an Africa that creates jobs for its own people," said Akinwumi Adesina at the AfDB's annual meetings in Lusaka, Zambia.

"We plan to leverage $5 billion to support businesses of young African entrepreneurs. Our goal: create 25 million jobs for the youth, over a ten year period, in agriculture, ICT and other sectors.”

Climate migration

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest youth population in the world. A great majority of African youth aged 15-35 are unemployed. According to World Bank statistics, 50% of that number aged 15-25 are unemployed. 2015 UN data on population says 18 994 000 people left Sub-Saharan Africa in 2015: of that number, 61.6% are between 20 and 64.

Migration is often associated with poverty and unemployment. But climate change, though often overlooked, is a major cause.

In March 2013, 31 year old Eritrean farmer Nuru Hassan Omar was counted among the over 9 million refugees and internally displaced persons in East Africa. Climate change and environmental degradation, armed conflict, and political, economic and food crises had caused people to flee their homes.

Nuru migrated five times within East Africa before taking a dangerous path migrating to Europe. Nuru is from the Gash Barka village, situated in south-western Eritrea. He has been engaged in farming since he was 9 and had been handling farming, the family business, until 2013 when he lost almost all of his investments cultivating onions, because of the changing season.

“The rains would not fall on time, thus, the onions did not grow. So I became a trader and first moved to Ethiopia, then later, to Sudan,” Nuru said.

“Because of the conflict in Sudan, I took upon the $2000 left over from my family business to travel to Europe. The trip to Europe was one hell of a journey. “

Travelling through the Sahara desert, he took his destiny in his hands, paying smugglers up to $1500 to traffic him to Europe, going through Libya to Italy.

“On a ramshackle boat, we were piled into a dark room with no lights, no air conditioning and no food after a journey from Libya that had taken three months. We arrived Italy (Sicily) with infected skin and wounds on our bodies.” Nuru now lives in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Hopes for Africa’s youth

Unemployment, climate change, food and nutritional security and energy is what the Bank is prioritising in its new 10 year strategy, the “High 5s: Light Up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.”

Africa’s youth can find hope in the Bank’s Jobs for Africa's Youth flagship initiative. Through this initiative, support will be channeled to build skills for the future: “digital literacy, logical thinking and computational skills in secondary and primary schools”.

“We will also support coding academies that will drive advanced computational skills for employment, focusing on youths in universities and polytechnics. Through our Boost Africa Initiative, with our partners, the European Investment Bank, private equity funds will be established to help boost the businesses of young people,” Dr Adesina said.

Dr Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary, UNECA and a member of the panel, believes Africa could do better with its youth. “Let us not mystify the issue of migration too much,” he said.

“If a lot of Africans that are migrating are tooled, they would contribute to Africa's transformation. Educational policies need to become closer to the needs of the economies”.

Article written by:
Israel Bionyi
Author
Current Map: Our coverage
“The future of Africa’s youth does not lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. It lies in a more prosperous and inclusive Africa – one that promotes creativity and innovation, that expands economic opportunities for the youth. It lies in an Africa that creates jobs for its own people.”
“We will also support coding academies that will drive advanced computational skills for employment, focusing on youths in universities and polytechnics. Through our Boost Africa Initiative, with our partners, the European Investment Bank, private equity funds will be established to help boost the businesses of young people.”
“If a lot of Africans that are migrating are tooled, they would contribute to Africa’s transformation. Educational policies need to become closer to the needs of the economies”.

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