The 2022 African Youth Survey provides new insights into a generation that has been hit hard by the global COVID-19 pandemic and is less optimistic about the future of the continent.
Commissioned by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, the survey findings are based on 4,500 face-to-face interviews among Africans aged between 18-24.
The study revealed that while optimism about the future has declined, African youth remain focused on their personal and entrepreneurial ambitions. They youth in the continent are more than determined to make it despite the obstructive economies of their respective countries.
Three-quarters of youth know what they want to do with their lives, and a similar proportion have plans to start their own business within the next five years.
Despite this, challenges remain for both their personal and professional ambitions – lack of access to capital and widespread and affordable internet limit entrepreneurial ambition, while perceptions towards the standard of living have declined by more than 10 points since 2019.
These concerns about long-term prospects may be driving the desires of African youth to emigrate abroad, with more than half considering emigrating to another country in the next three years to secure employment and educational opportunities for their future.
More findings from the report reveal a declining perception among youth that their country is on the right path. In areas such as equality of rights, employment and creation of jobs, healthcare services, and maintaining political stability, African youth express sweeping dissatisfaction towards their governments’ efforts to address these issues.
African youth want democracy, but a significant minority of young Africans would approve of a military takeover. Below is an extract of some of the research findings;
- Three in four (74%) of young Africans say democracy is preferable to any other form of government. However, only 39% believe that African countries should emulate western democracies.
- Nearly one in four (22%) would approve of the army coming in to take over their country.
- Strongest approval for a military takeover is among youth in Sudan (37%), Gabon (33%) and Ghana (32%).
- Young Africans view China as the dominant foreign power across Africa, not the United States.
- China is seen having influence on the continent by more African youth (77%) than any other foreign country or international organisation, including the United States (67%), the EU (62%), France (46%), or Russia (39%).
- Young Africans also view China’s impact on the continent slightly more positively than they view U.S. influence – 76% say China is a positive force in Africa versus 72% who say the same about the US.
- African youth point to Chinese products being affordable (44%), China’s investments in infrastructure (41%) and China creating job opportunities across Africa (35%) as the main reasons for its positive influence on the continent.
Africa is endowed with a highly youthful population. Today, more than 60% of Africa’s population is under the age of 25 and by 2030, young Africans are expected to constitute 42% of global youth.
Given the persistent decline of hope and disillusionment that the African youth have with their governments of the day, are there any prospects that fortunes may turn? Let us have your thoughts.