Ask one of the millions of youth in Nairobi or New Delhi about their concerns for the future, and more than likely the response will be that he or she is worried about finding a job.
Children from the Mukuru Talent Development center showcasing their creativity in the Lunga Lunga slum in Kenya.
From Bombay to Manila to the favelas in Rio, more than one billion people are estimated to be currently living in slums. According to the United Nations, this figure is expected to surpass the two billion mark by 2030.
With no roof or solid walls and no access to clean water or toilets, living conditions in the slums are unhygienic and hazardous. Considering that approximately 70% of slum dwellers are under 30, the future of the slums rests in the hands of the young generations. What do these youth need to reverse the trend and improve the daily lives of slum dwellers?
Students in a technical education program supported by the World Bank in Antioquia, Colombia.
I spoke about how the World Bank engages with youth, the largest demographic in the world right now. In an auditorium at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., young professionals, recent graduates, and college students were eager to find out how the Bank is helping and working with them. As a young person from a developing country, I could relate to their challenges and frustrations.
Youth Forum Breakfast, Abuja, Nigeria. Photo: Bamidele Emmanuel Oladokun / World Bank
In 2011 African heads of state met in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the African Union Summit. It was held under the theme: "Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development." The main aim of the gathering was to deliberate on Africa's youth which is growing faster than any other continent. More than 200 million people in Africa are between ages 15 through 24.
“Africa is the youngest continent. The current youth of Africa are not only important for Africa but also for the world,” said Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist for the World Bank’s Africa region. Young people are usually the ones who lead innovation and are a source of labor force of any economy, Devarajan added.
Photo: Farida Parveen is a successful entrepreneur in Manikgong district, she was destitute until taking a loan to start a small poultry farm. © 2011 CGAP contest.
Youth are particularly vulnerable to economic problems. They often don’t have access to financial services due to lack of education and employment. Governments are aware of this and are working to find solutions.
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What can be done to help African youth improve their prospects for a brighter future?
The first step might be to understand the challenges they face.
Recently, Microsoft Chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates wrote a terrific piece in the Wall Street Journal on why we need to measure the world’s problems to solve them. “You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal…,” said Gates.
Last week, we launched a global conversation on what will it take... to end poverty? ....for your family to be better off? .... for all to get an education? This week, people from around the world joined the discussion with their own question: #whatwillittake for youth to get better jobs?
Today, the growth potential of a country depends on the creativity, innovation and expertise of its citizens.
Strong international competition driven by globalization—between states, businesses and individuals—is fast increasing the importance of knowledge and education.
(Update: Thanks for participating in this event. The webcast and chat is now archived online.)
In the past three months, people across the Middle East and North Africa have taken to the streets to demand – and in some cases obtain – change.
Growing aspirations of youth in the region regarding jobs and political rights very quickly raised the bar for what governments need to do.
These days, the likes of Bono and Angelina Jolie, and world leaders like Tony Blair use their celebrity status to highlight the needs of the poor and poorer nations. Effectively, conquering poverty has become a fad, a “been to, must do” action that helps both the reputation of the giver and the recipient.