Africa's Youths in Politics

At the global level, there seems to be an understanding that youth are significant dividends of the global population, such that they need to be included in every decision-making process. They are also recognized as key agents of socio-economic and political movers of the society. Despite this fact, on the ground, youth are marginalized and excluded from the political and important decision making processes. This is truer in Africa than elsewhere in the world. Most politicians in Africa are failing to recognize this basic concern of the continent. Thus, the objective of this paper is to quest the youth inclusion in the African politics, which has been addressed by making a critical analysis on the trends, challenges, and prospects of youth participation in the political discourses of Africa. To address the objective of the study, secondary sources of data were utilized. After amassing all necessary data, qualitative methods of analysis in the forms of construction and interpretation were utilized to analyze and give a condensed picture of the study. Accordingly, the results of the study revealed that despite the fact that youth account the high proportion (seventy percent and more) of the African population, they are extremely excluded from socio-economic and political spheres. Though some legal protections and advocacies have been attempted by African countries, most of youth-related policies and programs are paper values. Hence, it is recommended that African countries should create enabling and youth-friendly environments that pave the way for an effective and meaningful youth political participations. Likewise, facilitating youth inclusion in the national and local electoral and consultation processes is another means for upgrading the level of political participation of youth. Finally, if the countries are not proactive towards their youth population, it may become a ticking political time bomb. Thus, young people should have a voice in their own future.

Keywords

Youth; Politics; Inclusion; Trend; Challenges; Prospects; Africa

Introduction

Youth constitute a fifth of the World’s population [1]. Meanwhile, their participation in the political discourses is very limited. Globally, the average age of parliamentarians is 53. The minimum age for competing to the parliamentary candidacy is 25 years [2]. This puts into question the inclusion of young peoples in the political spheres and processes. Youth have been recognized for their creative skills and innovative ideas. If we look at critically the major political changes and dynamism, youth are at the centre of the furculum. They mostly serve as catalysts for the changes of undemocratic governments and their political systems. The 2011/2012 Arab States popular uprisings were the cases in point. However, due to unfavorable legal architectures, low economic conditions and different discriminatory practices, their contributions and roles in the political arenas were extremely limited. As a result, their involvement in the political process is informal and not yet well recorded.

Given the fact that Africa is young in democracy and its political institutions are not well established, youth are excluded from important decision making processes. Most often than not, governments and policy makers in Africa are reluctant to include youth in the formal political systems. Nowadays, however; a marginal improvement has been shown in Africa, partly because of the rising consciousness of states and the external pressures including globalization and democratizations, which give due emphasis for the youth participation in the political and economic spheres of influences.

In Africa, consistently youth are correlate with violence. Indeed, the young population in Africa is growing at an alarming rate. Nonetheless, this segment of the population is unemployed and lives in an extremely discrepant way of life. That is why most young peoples of the continent get into violence than harnessing positive and real changes in their communities [3]. Nowadays, it is common to find that most African youth are drawn into gangs and predatory activities. Scholars pointed out that this could be a response to their marginalization and social and economic exclusions.

Recent reports of the World Bank and UNDP indicated that the youth accounts for more than seventy percent of the Africa’s population. Yet, regardless of their numerical importance and the historical relevance throughout the region, they have been neglected from political arenas [4]. As a result of lack of political participation of youth in the continent, most the younger population is disorganized, unemployed, and vulnerable to radical ideas such that leading demonstrations against governments. This has been seen in Sierra Leone, where the disillusioned and unemployed youth had played a great role in establishing the revolutionary united front (RUF) and in Rwanda where the youth were at the center in the genocidal. By taking these lacunas into consideration, this paper has thus an objective of questing the inclusion of youth in the African politics and the way they would be included in the political affairs of their respective countries.

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