Africa Series: Young Empowerment & Sustainable Development

 In News

Leading a family where members co-habit peacefully and progressively is never an easy task. It is even more daunting for a community leader to cast his vision of creating a haven for a people of diverse beliefs and cultures. As we move from the family front to a national level, leadership becomes extremely burdensome and tasking.

For meaningful and successful leadership, leaders saddled with such responsibility must, as a matter of duty, establish a crystal clear intersection between the socio-economic policies set, policy decisions taken and the subsequent impacts on the followers.

It is disheartening, for example, that in Africa there are two classes of people as viewed from the stance of governance: the prosperous leading class and the impoverished following class. Between these classes are abysmal gulfs that have made transition and connection from one class to the other impossibly difficult. This disconnect, among other factors, has stood between the leading and the led on one hand, and sustainable development in Africa on another hand.

African leaders have explored a few resources with which the continent is endowed, yet the leadership has failed to harness the vast potential of its youths. 65% of the African population is composed of young people between 14 and 24 years of age. It is therefore essential and imperative that African leaders invest huge resources to educate and empower this demographic.

Until the leading class in Africa sees youth empowerment as a critical requirement for sustainable development in the continent, news of youth unrest, gang rape, killings, disturbances of public peace and order and terrorism will continue to be major news headlines. Until African leaders partner with their youths in key areas of governance and policy, the continent will continue to miss out on the benefits of such partnership.

However, for a effective and productive partnership that could possibly translate to sustainable development to take place between African governments and their young populations, it is invaluable that this demographic receives the quality education at minimal cost to their families, skills acquisition and empowerment that would prepare and qualify them to contribute positively to issues of national development.

Personally, I am leading a Nigerian delegation to Birmingham, United Kingdom for a four-day Commonwealth and UK Sustainable Development training, which will provide a pivotal foundation and clear assessment of what investing in young people could do for a country and its people.

I passionately believe that leadership in Africa could become a model for other continents when her leaders commit to and implement the few suggestions raised above, thereby charting a new course for sustainable development in the continent.

Submitted by Olanrewaju Daodu, a Peace Child International Task Force Member and the founder and principal consultant for Rural Youth Voice of Nigeria – a grassroots, not-for-profit youth-led organisation founded to educate and empower young people, especially vulnerable girls and young women in rural communities. He can be reached at

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