February 12, 2014

Maximizing Africa's youth potential

Wenseslaus, a Form 3 student at St Jude's, won 3rd place in the International Youth Day Essay Competition run by the African Leadership Academy, a Johannesburg institution. He was the only Tanzanian among the winners.

For the competition, students were required to write an essay of up to 1,000 words about the topic:  “How can governments, businesses, non-profits, individuals and the youth collaborate to maximize Africa’s youth potential for the continent’s development and prosperity?” Here’s Wenseslaus’ essay:

In Africa there is a very large number of youth that has even exceeded other age groups. A youth age rank from 15- 27  years age. Around 43% of Africans are youth with the potential to bring development to this continent. Potential is the  ability of prosperity that is within an individual to do something much better for development purposes. 

“The world is on the cusp of entering a new reality in which human potential itself will become the major agent of economic growth,” said Jeffrey A. Joerres, CEO and President of Manpower Group, “Entering human age”, 2011.

Government is the group of people responsible for their citizens in the sense of leadership and law maintenance. The non-governmental organizations are organizations that do not depend on government support to run their activities. Businesses deal with provision of goods and services to consumers at the time of need while individuals are independent people. All these groups and individuals can come together to maximize the potential of African youth in different ways.

Firstly, by providing quality education and vocational skills. This can be done through construction of schools. Individuals may assist in learning institutions and even find scholarship opportunities for youth. Due to the fact that many Africans are not educated and those who are educated have low quality education, there is a need for these groups including individuals to assist in quality education for youth. 

For those who are not qualified academically, there should be vocational skills training that could help them get qualifications. There are about 133 million young people, 50% of whom are illiterate. If this number is reduced, we could count on a big development step for Africa. For example, an educated person can control a business well and later the profit is used for future development by paying tax to government. 

Fruits of education cannot be seen in a short time. It takes some years to reap what you sow.

There must be greater investment in science and technology. When governments, non-profit organisations, businesses and individuals join forces in science and technology we expect to enhance development in our continent. Also through empowering women to study science subjects. This would increase the number of students and graduates.

 There are so many youth in Africa who have the potential to do well in science and technology. Much concentration can be put in this sector since it is important that we consider the world’s fast moving technology. Many inventions, ideas, and discoveries have come from America, Asia and Australia but very few come from Africa. This shows we are behind in technology. If we invest we will one day end up developing in line with the Europeans and others.

Moreover, there is a need to create more employment opportunities. Employment makes a person self-reliant since they have a source of income. It should not just be spoken about but implemented and jobs should only go to qualified people so businesses can prosper. Uneducated persons can make a business decline as a factor of not having enough knowledge. Through employment, people will be able to pay taxes to their governments which will help in construction of social services like schools, roads and hospitals.

We have to start trusting youth and give them a chance to show their worth. If you hire a youth to control your business, I would assure you of a great success rather than anyone else, particularly if it is not their homeland. An African has a true love for their land compared to anyone else from abroad. I believe Africans can do better things, once given a chance.

Unemployment rate in Africa




















Nevertheless, rendering of resources such as books and equipment to youth is another important factor. These can help youth to accomplish their dreams. These tools can include learning materials in the education sector, provision of quality machines will make the production more effective and lead to prosperity. 

Equipment, resources and tools may be offered by different methods like loans. Capital to start a business can be provided and interest be paid in return. This will make youth be more serious about their work knowing that they have something in return rather than just providing equipment for free without any consideration. For example youth who use computers to study have a higher ability for understanding compared to those who study without. Students who are exposed to resources perform much better than those without.

Furthermore, giving out reasonable loans can build the spirit of entrepreneurship in youth. Not only in business but also loans for study costs. There are some wealthy individuals like Dangote from Nigeria who are wealthy enough to provide loans to youth in order to maximize their potential. According to the loans rules they have strict conditions for one to obtain a loan. The government and banks should try to make the conditions lighter so we have a larger number of youth taking loans. 

For example, people need fixed assets to get a loan and many youth come from poor families. They may not have assets but they have the potential to do something to get out of that poverty. Hard conditions limit the number of youth putting effort into development and as a result hinders development overall.

In conclusion, the main thing needed is to main and bring development to African youth is teamwork and cooperation. These are the keys to a successful life. 

Though there are various challenges that are facing African youth such as poor infrastructure, lack of technology, poor administrative leadership and lack of skills, I still believe that one day Africa will be a place of another world. Changes are possible with commitment to oneself. If we have opportunities, let’s make good use of it. The little knowledge we have, let’s use it to bring greater change and reduce poverty.

Let’s make Africa a home for other continents.


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