Africa’s youth are less optimistic about the future of their countries than they were two years ago – and they are even more pessimistic if they live in Kenya, Rwanda, or South Africa. They are only slightly more positive about the continent’s future, according to the African Youth Survey published on Monday.
COVID-19, the economy, and instability all play a role in the drop in sentiment, followed very closely by worries about corruption, the standard of education, and the availability of decent jobs. 77% are scared they won’t be able to buy their own homes. Three-quarters of them believe owning land is vital for their financial wellbeing.
But despite all of that 77% of Africans between the ages of 18 and 24 believe their lives will improve in the next two years. More than two-thirds are convinced they will lead better lives than their parents. They are determined to control their own destiny. Two-thirds of them will marry later than their parents did, 72% intend to have fewer children.
If their governments can’t help them achieve this, they’ll do it themselves, with three-quarters of them intending to start their own businesses, even if access to capital remains a major barrier for most of them. Technology will play a major part in those start-ups just as it does in their current lives. Wi-Fi is seen as a basic human right, but two-thirds of African youth find it very expensive, with only 12% able to afford it every day even though three-quarters of them spend an hour a day on social media to get their news and help work out what’s fake and what’s real.
They are switched on about geopolitics and see China as the most influential – and positive – player on the continent, followed in descending order by the US, the AU, the EU, the WTO, and the UK. But there is also a growing negative sentiment about China and foreign companies who extract the continent’s raw materials without properly reinvesting in the countries where they are taking it from. More than a third of South Africans, Ugandans, and Ethiopians see foreign influence as negative.
These are just some of the highlights from the second edition of the African Youth Survey that has now taken the pulse of just under 10 000 youths since its inception in 2019. Conceptualized and underwritten by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, the survey remains a ground-breaking and unique barometer of the hopes, dreams, and concerns of the next generation of African leaders.
As industrialist, philanthropist, and foundation chairman Ivor Ichikowitz explains: “When this survey was first launched, I believed that the time was right to test the pulse of this youth group because they are, like their age group in South Africa, ‘born frees’. This African generation is free, not from white domination as such, but from the inter-generational burden of emerging from the shackles of centuries of colonialism.”
The survey, he said, proved beyond any doubt that the current cohort of African youth was aware of the risks they faced, but conscious of the things they would have to address to achieve their dreams.
“In a continent that is often wracked by violence, dominated by patriarchy and divided by xenophobia, it is heartening to discover how 83% of the respondents are concerned about ethnic minorities, with as many again concerned about gender-based violence and 64% believing that their countries have a duty to assist refugees. But there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to protecting the LGBTQ+ community and it’s terribly sad to read how almost half of the youth have suffered some form of identity or other discrimination.
“It is always said that Africa’s greatest resource is not her treasure trove of minerals, but rather the treasure trove of people. AYS 2022 bears this out – and that’s great news for those of us who truly believe in making the African Century a reality in our lifetime.”