WINDHOEK, 05 JUN – With over 60 per cent of Africa’s population being younger than 35 – this segment is running out of patience, demanding to be part of leadership positions and to benefit from the continent’s vast mineral resources.
This was the view of former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, when she addressed the Parliamentary Women Caucus and the Standing Committee for Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs in the capital on Tuesday.
Johnson-Sirleaf challenged them to come up with solutions to issues affecting the youth on the continent, to have the opportunity, education and skills that will enable them to participate and become employable.
“Our continent is young. On average, 60 per cent of our population is 35 years and under, with school leaving increasing the numbers of those that are ready for jobs and job opportunities that are not expanding fast enough to be able to absorb them. That is an issue that is facing different degrees in most of our countries,” she said.
She questioned how the youth’s anticipation and passion to participate in all spheres of life can be contained any further.
“How are they going to be patient enough as we prepare them for leadership and how will some of them respond because they don’t have that patience and want to see themselves progress as they believe the nation should provide them the opportunity?”
Johnson-Sirleaf pointed to education, diversification of natural resources and improvement in the health sectors as key areas that need to be improved on the continent if the objectives of Agenda 2063 are to be realised.
Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years.
She urged African governments to ensure that natural resources are directed to the majority of their population to raise their participation in the economy.
Johnson-Sirleaf’s remarks come at a time when Namibia finds itself with a 43,8 per cent youth unemployment rate.
A situation so dire that Swapo Party Youth League Secretary, Ephraim Nekongo recently branded it a “ticking time-bomb”.
Nekongo said the youth unemployment rate was a growing concern and could lead to a revolution if left unaddressed.