Future of the youth and role in vitalising public service

Many African youth are presently staring down the deep, dark bottomless chasm of despair and hopelessness

In Summary

• Kenya has a vision for youth employment, inclusion in governance and enterprise development.

Offices of the Youth Enterprises Fund at TSS Nkrumah Road, Mombasa
Offices of the Youth Enterprises Fund at TSS Nkrumah Road, Mombasa
Image: FILE

For decades, the role of the youth in driving Africa’s development agenda and vitalising public service has been overlooked, with their involvement in impelling the continent’s economy marked at the minimal.

An analysis of the numbers paints a bleak picture of the continent’s placement in matters youth empowerment. Data from African Development Bank Group indicates that out of nearly 450 million youth in the continent today, one-third are unemployed.

The issue is explicated further by the United Nations Development Programme, which shows that every 24 hours, 33,000 youth enter the job market, 60 per cent of which miss out on job opportunities and, therefore, remain unemployed.

There is more. It is estimated that the youth population will be 850 million by 2050, according to UNDP, raising the pertinent question of whether African countries are well-prepared to cope with the burgeoning population of youth.

Therefore, it is not only commendable but also hope-inspiring what theme was chosen by the organisers of the 7th edition of the Africa Public Service Day (APSD). The event, held in Nairobi last weekend, focused on The Intersection of Youth Empowerment and Migration: Entrenching a Culture of Good Governance, ICT and Innovation for inclusive Service Delivery.

The degree of sincerity and candour with which the delegates at the three-day event held in Nairobi canvased these issues gives hope of a better future for the African youth.

From President Uhuru Kenyatta’s opening remarks, one can understand the severity of the issue at hand, even prompting the “African Union to include the youth in most of its programmes, including public service reforms, as recognition”.

The corresponding effect between the contribution of youth to governance and transparency and effectiveness of public service is captured clearly in Youth CS Margaret Kobia’s speech at the official opening of Youth Consultative Forum on Saturday.

She said, “In Africa, we recognise the importance of having youth participating in national development, and we also recognise the importance of partnering with the youth for a responsive and sustainable public service.”

But as it is said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The conference concluded with a communiqué that captures the key propositions that should be adopted by member states to ensure an empowered youth and improved service delivery.

According to Kobia, Kenya has already set a vision for the youth that encapsulates opportunities for employment, participation in governance, enterprise development, education and skills enhancement, health, well-being and peaceful coexistence for all.

We can only hope that other African countries that are yet to begin this process can do so to help the continent save the youth, who are presently staring down the deep, dark bottomless chasm of despair and hopelessness.

The writer is a communication strategist and a youth policy adviser