« Previous | Main | Next »

Where is Africa's youth leadership?

BBC Africa HYS Team | 16:06 UK time, Tuesday, 21 September 2010

With Nigeria's 50th independence anniversary just around the corner, a recently released report says Nigeria's youth, not oil, will be the country's biggest asset in the 21st Century.

According to the British council study, by 2030, 40% of Nigeria's population will be under the age of 14. 

Indeed Africa's population is getting increasingly younger.  But with high unemployment rates, rising poverty levels and deteriorating standards in education to contend with, are they up to the task of leading the continent?

How pro-active are the continent's young people in pushing for change? 

If you are a young person in Africa, how active are you in making change happen?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on air on Wednesday 22 September at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published. 




  • Comment number 1.

    African youth remain marginalised, unrepresented, unemployed, poor, bruised and abused, no society or group of people can attain its full potentials amidst these grave calamities.

  • Comment number 2.

    The leadership of Africa cannot be interested into the hands of African Youth in 20 years as long as African leaders remain insensitive in addressing poverty alleviation for African families, prioritizing youth education and increasing youth employment.

    philip K. Whoewieh/Monrovia

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 3.

    Despite the multiple challenges facing Africa's development which is typified by the crises of the youth today, I still believe that today's young African is much more confident, educated and ready take his/her place in the future direction of the continent. As a young African studying in the UK I have always articulated this position because of the lessons that the continent's chequered past have thought the young people.Hence, we refuse to be the sons and daughthers of slaves, rebles and deprived people, we are rather fathers and mothers of a new generation that refuses to be broke(n). I have so much optimism for the continent because of its youth

  • Comment number 4.

    Africa's youth leadership is Visible And Bold And Also They Can Lead This Significant Continent ,Personally, I would like to Underline Some Problems Those We Are Facing Today.
    One Of The Biggest Problem Is Vission Without Action. As Mandella Said Before , Action without vision Is A Dream But Vision with action can change the world'
    The Second is The lack of Genuine All the People Became Traitors

    Eventually, I Wish All African Youths Honest And Creators

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Youths in not only Nigeria, but Africa as a whole are our continent's greatest resources. This is the dawn of the era of the young people. Though a large number of youth are unemployed, prone to violence, I still strongly believe that youths are in a position to take over the leadership of their countries. Nowhere is this more true than in my country Sierra Leone. In our last Presidential and Parliamentary elections,a good number of youths were elected to public offices. I see more of this happening in the years come.
    The big challenge however is for youths to eschew violence and embrace peace.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    How easily can a single grasshopper make its path among host of enemy ants? This is exactly the case of African youths today. It becomes difficult for us to survive in the hands of these old guys who are one way or the other connected and used as puppets by great powers where as the latter used their economic and political influence to keep their choice in power preventing the youths from working and developing their nations. Take for example my country Liberia. How will the youths in this country of leass than four million people with vast natural resources survive when the old guys are hanging on powers whereby terrorizing the youths in so many ways.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    The best way to win a football match against an opponent is to keep him off the football. That is exactly what the old guys(in power) are doing here in Liberia. They have made education very expensive, centralized and scare to stop the majority youths here below the poverty line from going to school so that they the so-called elites and their families continues to enjoy the national cake thus silencing the already majority youths from taking over the state of affairs of their country.Even government schools here have been neglected by the the government where you find majority of the youths who want to be educated and serve their nation. I may not know more about other African countries, but Liberian youths are miles away from achieving their full potentials. I am one of the victims now! now! now!

  • Comment number 14.

    Yes Indeed, the youth are up to task to take on leading role in Africa, we are ready and willing to take on now, but there is some challenges.

  • Comment number 15.

    After reading some of the posts above i noticed some optimism about the future of our great continent. That is good. But we should not shy away from the truth; the mindset of youth in my country Nigeria is still something to worry about. While in school, a professor asked us to do a mini study by taking a sample of 10 young educated Nigerian youth under the age of 30 and ask them the following question: 'What would you do if you become the president of Nigeria?' Lo and behold, 8 out of 10 said they would, as a matter of priority,amass as much wealth as they can to cater for their immediate relations when they leave the office. The remaining 2 is shared between those who will sincerely serve their country first and those who are unsure until they are there. Now what does this portend? Well, the response of some people in the first group could be more out of chagrin than sincerity of purpose, but it still shows that there is still a lot of work to done on the mindset of the African, and particularly, Nigerian youth.

  • Comment number 16.

    My intention as the son of Africa is that one day Africa is going to acclaim the glory we once held. I have to ensure this is arrived at by doing something so quickly. I want to follow the foot steps of my Kenyan Idol Wangari Mathai who has changed the look of our city Nairobi by planting as many trees as possible with this I am sure we shall increase rain and hence food security. I have initiated this by planting my own 2500 trees as the initial project.

  • Comment number 17.

    It's good the comments that have been posted so far give a gist of what the youth can do.It is easier said than done!If the youth have identified their talents and they know they can do something to boost or lift their country higher, I think no one prevents them from doing so.Look at some of the great leaders or some of the highly skilled and notable entrepreneurs known in the world- of course if their talent were hidden,they wouldn't be where they got to!I know most of the youth will say that they should be given the opprtunity and my question will be-"Who should give you that opportunity",no one is preventing anybody from what the person can do best but we should be very competent so that we will create jobs for ourselves.
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 18.

    I will ask the world that it is indeed time to invest in Africa. this is the continent with natural resources unexploited and if we invested in the continent we are likely to end the global crisis of food insecurity.

  • Comment number 19.

    Politics is good thing and it must be practiced however I believe to improve our economy and to improve life of African we need more people who produce that is why I have decided to produce first before I can go into active politics. This should be an anthem for my fellow youth for we need to feed our people before we lead them we can not concentrate on leading and yet the very subject is dying.

  • Comment number 20.

    Politics is good thing and it must be practiced however I believe to improve our economy and to improve life of African we need more people who produce that is why I have decided to produce first before I can go into active politics.

  • Comment number 21.

    The present government, here in Ethiopia, believes that the planned succession of leadership is very vital to sustain our country's development and growth. Standing from this belief the governemt has been working to bring competent and committed leaders to higher level of leadership.
    In the bid to attain this aim the incumbent party has planned to replace all the frontline senior party and government leaders with new and young leaders in the coming five years time. To get competent higher level leaders a lot of new graduate young men and women are purposefully helped to seize the lower level leadership and gain experience for their successful journey to the next level or higher level of leadership.

    The young section of the population is being activiely participating in planned manner in all aspects of economic, social and political spheres of the country so that the youth could effectively take over the leadership from the senior leaders with in the coming years.

    In general, I think my country is performing remarkable job in this regard, though I don't mean that we have done all our homeworks. We have a lot to do in the future, but I believe a strong foundation has been already laid.

  • Comment number 22.

    I completely believe that the youth would be the biggest asset for Africa, and not only for Nigeria. Already, I am one youth leadership export from Nigeria. I am working with young university students in Liberia, to build their confidence in the skills they possess, and understand what competencies are required of leaders today. And it's quite challenging in a country where poverty is at record high, corruption is still a bane, and shady politics has eaten deep in to the fabric of society. However, no matter how bleak the present looks, we must continue to look to the future. Where would today's youth be in 5-10 years? We would be inheriting leadership in all spheres of life. If we don't build traits, characters and soft skills required to thrive with a global mindset as a leader, then we would be doing even greater injustice to the cause of the MDGs. Moreso, we must imbibe service learning, which involves work abroad internships, especially in and around development studies. It gives us a better understanding of our continent, and gives us the experience of a lifetime, which would be useful when we assume leadership tomorrow. Africa is destined for greatness, and only it's youth would take it there.

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 23.

    Whereas many governments on the continent do not invest much in their youth, it's also true that many of the youth are indifferent. Of course governments play a huge role in facilitating youth leadership but where there isn't an organized and effective youth voice to articulate and demand change nothing significant will be got. There's no real mentor- ship of young people in leadership roles and as such the few that get there inherit an already broken system with less or even no interest to change things. Even with all this, I'm optimistic that the tide will soon change with many young people gracing leadership positions if only we grab some real interest in the issues that affect us and combat that interest into action.

    Carol Amuge, Kampala Uganda.

  • Comment number 24.

    The fact that politics today is not giving room for the youth, for me is healthy. When youth delve into politics of today, we would only get mentored on shady politics. Rather, if we gain experience in areas other than politics, it only leaves us in a position to be competent for leadership. Politicians do not define leadership, but leaders define politics. Today's youth need to switch their attention from politics to leadership. AIESEC for me, encapsulates this belief. Leadership is about making impact. Politics is about position and power. When you make impact directly or indirectly, you would break every shackles of poor leadership and corrupt leadership. I disagree that Africa's youth are lazy. Idle is a better word. And if we continue to wait on today's leaders who don't have an agenda for the youth, we would be overrun by their acts. yet, while these governments don't spend enough on youth capacity development, we must strive on our own, to build ourselves. Leadership is a personal thing, and so is development.

  • Comment number 25.

    One might say that the future of African leadership is uncertain because most of her youths are indifferent and don't know any better. In my country Cameroon, the presidency has been occupied by a single individual for the past 28 years, corruption reigns and it has become part of daily business. Public education meant to educate the masses is nolonger free and poverty is preventing parents from sending their children to public schools.
    With the current state of affair so bad, most young people are not thinking about serving their country and her people, instead they are thinking about themselves, how to get rich quick and who do they have to step on while getting ahead of the line. We often blame the old guys, however, the question we the youths of Cameroon and other African countries should be asking ourselves, what opportunities have we created for oursleves and our communities. To effect change, the get quick games would have to stop and the thinking within tribal lines have to be eradicated in order for the country to advance. If we wish to be great leaders in the future, we have to look at great leader past and present to see what they did for their communities and stop complaining about "promises not kept" or "fulfilled". We are in charge of our own destiny and we have to act now and do something about it. If you want change you should go out there and organize. Demand more from your leaders and you should lead by example.
    I am hopeful that many young people educated oversea would elect to return to the homeland and effect change through the creation of new business opportunities, demanding more from the government and her subjects. Educating the next generations as well as try to eradicate the mentality of corruption which has poison the mind of all.
    I am hopeful that the future is bright and that one day, the presidency would be held by a young people with ideas of change and progression in mind.

  • Comment number 26.

    African youth may or may not be proactive. First, which media dedicates coverage of the youth activities in Africa? In general terms, the youth are proactive but because of the skewed social structure the good meaning by the youth is negated on the assumption they should wait for their time. This is wrong because the most creative mind occurs in one's youth life. So by pushing the youth on the side we deliberately suspend creativity in them.
    The social institutions such as education system tend to narrow mental development scope to only what the adults feel the youth should know. It is brainwashing. Likewise, the family system also denies the youth exploration of themselves to keep within the accepted norms. The governments role of putting infrastructure for the support of the youth development in Africa is neither adequate nor well thoughtout.Therefore, as the youth population tips the balance, it will be upon them to take charge and redirect the strategy and policy development for the future youth after the contemporary generation.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Like the saying goes "what you sow is what you ripe" Following this report what is the government doing to prepair the youth to the future that is ahead?

  • Comment number 29.

    I am a young African developing policy and industry solutions to counteract lack of access to finance in Africa. I'm married to a young African who works to develop innovative credit solutions for low-income Africans. My friends are Zambians, Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Kenyans, Ghanians and South Africans all young and emerging leaders in their respective industries. We volunteer, we contribute to our local communities, we vote and we pray for our countries. So you may not see us demonstrating on the streets or setting up political organisations but we are here, working anyway. I believe there are many of us and it's only a matter of time before we become the "old fogies" and can start making those key decisions that bring about change. At the moment, we work to influence change. But it's only a matter of time...

  • Comment number 30.

    Inequities of life are a part of the process of evolution!It is a pre-requisite for character building! There is a lot of history in Africa, a reflection for the entire human race! The only nation still in touch with its roots! It is a time for introspection for the Africans! Life has gone full cycle, they are on there own. Time to make or break! Wake up! Fortune awaits you, the world is with you!

  • Comment number 31.

    The African youth lives in a continent where their leaders are begging the western world instead of coming up with constructive policies followed by the likes of India, Brazil and China-to mention a few-in order to liberate themselves from hardships. They ask for aid, aid and aid, all the way whenever they meet any developed country representative and that is really sad. The moment the so-called leaders stop asking for handouts, only will the African child realize their potential and step into the world as someone who can take a step farther in the right direction. And the west should stop feeling sorry for Africa and keep their aid to themselves for no begger ever became rich without stopping to beg.

  • Comment number 32.

    It is a very common knowledge that most African older people always do not appreciate younger ones to do better than them so they frustrate and blackmail them. That is why today you will see that young Africans in leadership are children of the old politicians. In the generations to come, most of the current leadership will be blamed and relegated by these young Africans. It makes me laugh to realise that many African leaders want to immortalise their name for corruption, abuses and all sorts. There is going to be a new Africa soon that would emerge from the current young Africans and they would make Africa great.

  • Comment number 33.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    ask this question meles zenawi and he will tell u that EPRDF is doing power sucession to the youth , at last nominally


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.