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African youth: Optimistic about the future and hungry for opportunities

Written by Staff Writer

August 2, 2022

By Sinazo Mkoko

Despite challenges, African young people are focused on their personal and entrepreneurial ambitions. This is according to the 2022 African Youth Survey released by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation. The survey gives a valuable update on the ‘Afro-optimism’ uncovered in the inaugural research conducted in 2019. This year’s study conveys the challenges of a generation and continent hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but shows their continued resilience and ambition despite the challenges.

The study reflects tensions of youth in Africa and the challenges they will navigate in the coming years.The report revealed that personal and entrepreneurial ambitions are not dampened by broader concerns, and youth say they know what they want to do and plan on starting families and getting married later than their parents.

“African youth are optimistic about the entrepreneurial environment in their countries, with two-thirds agreeing that their country is creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship (66%) and facilitating access to the digital economy (67%)” the report noted. 

“Among the three-quarters of African youth planning on starting a business, the vast majority say they will rely on technology to do so. Four-in-ten (43%) say that they will rely on technology to set up, promote, and run their business a great deal, with another third (35%) saying they will be somewhat reliant on technology.”

The report states that gender-based discrimination is a top concern for African youth, with both men and women expressing high concern over the issue. “Eight-in-ten young people say that they are concerned about the lack of protection for women’s rights and a similar proportion express concern about gender-based violence. For both issues, young women express only slightly higher levels of concern than young men (83% for women vs 76% for men and 83% for women vs 79% for men, respectively), indicating that both genders agree that addressing women’s rights and gender-based discrimination should be priorities.”

The report also reveals that emigration is top of mind for many African youth and more than half say they are likely to at least consider moving to another country in the next three years. “Within the African continent, South Africa stands out as by far the most appealing destination for youth across the continent looking to emigrate,” it stated. 

The youth who are considering emigrating, cite economic reasons such as pursuing job opportunities, educational and new experiences. 

It also showed that young people are concerned by the impact that climate change will have on themselves, their communities, and future generations. “Youth are also concerned about the wider impact of climate change on the people of their country and on future generations,” the report said. 

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