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Opinions of Saturday, 21 February 2015

Columnist: Boateng, Arnold

Politicians should stop the exploitation of the youth

Arnold Boateng 18th February 2015

It is time for politicians to pursue the right policies and support programmes which would help the youth to acquire the needed character, knowledge and skills to tap into the enormous opportunities the coming decades offer. This calls for the African politicians to cease the senseless looting, greed and create an environment where basic skills, ambition and the right attitude on the part of the youth would be enough to earn a job and make a decent living. Adopting policies, crafting action plans and setting up institutions to effect intended policy objectives are not enough. Those institutions must work and deliver real results on the ground.

Very few would disagree with the late Mother Theresa that; "the youth are our greatest assets." No nation could become a powerhouse without an educated, vibrant, ambitious and thriving youth. The energies, dynamism and vision of the youth are needed to provide the needed force for development.



Africa is blessed with not only natural resources, which, we have managed to waste, but with a youth base which could be turned into an invaluable human capital which could serve as the basis for any economic, industrial or knowledge based economies, whichever, we so desire.



The World Bank observes that, 'with almost 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world'. This indicates a younger labour force for labour markets. At even the current rate, this 'number of young people in Africa will double by 2045'. Irrespective of this, there is the likelihood that, the attitude of most African governments to youth job creation would turn this opportunity into a nightmare.

On the other hand, the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that, at a 2.7% population growth rate, by 2040, the continents labour force is estimated to be '1 billion strong surpassing both China and India' and the largest in the world. The wealth potential and downside of this scenario should light a fire under the comfortable seats of many African leaders to rise up and tap into this enormous opportunity rather than allow it to become a nightmare of continental proportions. With this raw resource of youth, Africa does not need gold, oil, platinum and bauxite, to become a global powerhouse. Our youth, with their energy, drive and enthusiasm, should be our gold and diamonds. With vision, focus and planning, we can and should create a global highly skilled workforce out of these youth.



Across the continent, politicians are busily and directly turning many a young persons in to bootlickers, gossips, and expendables with the political machinery whilst their polices, practices and failures are turning an equally large numbers into failed members of our communities for lack of employment and other opportunities necessary for them, to achieve their dreams. It is our duty as a continent to build our youth into an army of entrepreneurs, engineers, medical doctors, architects, agriculturalists and teachers and not mercenaries of wars or tools of social vices and anarchy.



Of the most wars, revolts and disturbances on the continent, we see the youth being used for these troubles. They spend their days and years on killing fields, killing each other to protect the greed and interests of "lords". Sadly the resources for the guns come from resources for education, skills training centre and other necessary facilities.



Youth in non-conflict areas are no better off. They face insurmountable challenges for lack of opportunities and facilities. To these youth, education and acquisition of skills have become less of value in the light of lack of jobs and opportunities. The society asked them to get education and training. They have done so to no avail. They scrap the floors for barely a living, and or working below their skills level to make ends meet if they are lucky.



As I observed in THE AFRICAN YOUTH QUESTION, "There is no doubt that, many of the African youth are liberated in their minds, horizon, dreams and ambitions. Many of (them) are dreaming again and working hard to achieve (their) dreams. Their self-belief and confidence are overwhelming. Many of (them) have now understood and embraced the 'I can do' attitude. Without question, their greatest unspeakable obstacle...is the political elite and their bedfellows. What foundation and legacy is the political elite leaving for the youth? The political elite needs to answer this question or the youth (must) find an appropriate means to elicit a response " if they are to escape the endless spiral of failure which has become a common feature around them.

ARNOLD BOATENG

Author of the Books "THE AFRICAN YOUTH QUESTION, & DREAMS OF OUR YOUTH" (Available from Amazon and Kindle Store) and Consultant and Youth Dev. Advocate; AFAG Gen. Secretary

(For interviews/speaking engagements)

Tel: +233-20 98 30 546

T: @Arnold_Boateng