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Facts & Figures on African Youth released

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has released the 2012 Facts and Figures on African Youth. The report will inform discussions to be held during the 2012 Ibrahim Forum in Dakar, Senegal, on the theme, African Youth: Fulfilling the Potential.

Africa is the only continent with a significantly growing youth population. In less than three generations, 41% of the world’s youth will be African. By 2035, Africa’s labour force will be larger than China’s. How do we ensure that Africa benefits from this imminent demographic dividend? How do we ensure that African youth will compete at the global level not only due to sheer numbers? What is the future that we are creating for our most precious resource? These are some of the questions that will be addressed by panellists at Forum on 11 November.

Africa has become an important player within the global economic system. Sub-Saharan African growth prospects outperform the Middle East & North Africa, Latin America and Europe. Meanwhile, demographic shifts, the western world’s financial crisis, and the development of technologies, are impacting the shape of the global job market. In this new international context, what will global job demand look like at the world level and in Africa? How will this impact on youth employment prospects? Do governments in Africa need to design development policies around job creation rather than economic growth?

African youth are better educated but less employed than their parents. On the continent, too many African young people are neither employed, nor studying, nor looking for a job. Is this forced 'idleness' sustainable? What needs to be done to increase the global competitiveness of African youth? Are there missing elements in health, education, skills, financial help, employers’ motivations? Should the skilled diaspora be enticed back? How does the continent deal with the 'lost generation' from various civil wars?

The continental median age is 20 years old and the median age of African leaders is 62. Electoral turnout has been falling among African youth. How committed are Africa’s youth to shaping the environment around them? How committed are policy makers to listening to and including African youth in policy decisions? Does democracy need new tools? How can Africa promote an intergenerational dialogue of substance and meaning? Is the Arab spring to become an African summer?