African Youth Role in Development

This paper aims at indentifying the role played by African youth in development and studying the most significant challenges and impediments faced by African youth, so that the same can be able to play its comprehensive role in development to enable him to have constructive visions and ideas to design clear strategic plans and establishing Joint African Cooperative Projects ( Real developmental projects) in which all African youth can contribute significantly.                


The importance of this study, focus on problems and impediments faced by African Youth in meeting its commitments toward development, and to find a solution as well as strategic plans to activate the role of youth in development. The problem of the study found that , the role played by youth in development remains weak compared to other youth in the African continent.                                          


Youth percentage is estimated to be one third of world population, it represents exactly, 30% of total of world population today, therefore most countries give youth more concern to get maximum benefits from their capabilities to advance the communities, because youth are considered be as dynamic power for any change in community whether   politically, socially or economically. Moreover they constitute half present and all future. The African Confinement is regarded as the first ever in the world in terms of youth percentage compared with total population. in this regards, youth percentage of those who under 25 years old in the continent rose to 60%. Therefore youth represents very important category in supporting human capital in the continent. Despite that big percentage of African youth   lack good education and about 162 million of youth in Africa , south desert live with less than one USD on daily basis. So they represent the most marginalized category by large in connection to political participation and work. Therefore they always attracted by conflict and violence.                                    

Definition of youth:

There is a unified definition for youth,” the concept might differ from one community to another” and state to other. Some states confine the category of youth between (15-24) while some other states think that, youth is the stage where the role of young begin up to the stage in which he/she is able shoulder the personal responsibilities and commitments toward community where they live in. However Youth in Sudanese community is defined as “the category confined between (15-35) years old.                                                            

Youth has been defined in the African Youth Report of 2009 as the category between (15-39) years old. Despite that, a number of African countries define youth based on different methods. For example Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa define youth as those who between 15-35 as well as Sudan as we have seen. While Nigeria and Switzerland define them as age category between 12-30, However Tuswana defines them as age category between 14-25 year old.                                    

Definition of Development:

One of the most important definitions for this term we mention the following definition:- That,” development is a process of advancement of community from lower level to better one, and from traditional to more quantitatively   and qualitatively   advanced level. Development is regarded as inevitable solution in meeting national requirements in the field of production and services”.                                                  

Realty of development in Africa:

Third world states, especially Africa and Asia continents have witnessed serious and big challenges of internal and external infrastructure since independence era and up to now. As for internal problems, we find that, African states suffer from (political problems) resulted from weakness of national unity, national affiliation and control made by tribal and ethnical affiliation. Therefore, the continent involved in very serious conflicts and civil war. In this connection, most of African states witnessed civil wars and serious conflicts in which a lot of victims have lost their lives in Somali, Nigeria , Liberia, Rwanda, Congo and Kenya ,in addition to the phenomena of political instability and military coup took place in Mauritania, Chad, Somali and so on.                                                                    

African States also suffer from (economic problems)that represent realization of quick and comprehensive developmental projects. And because most of third world states unable to invest its natural resources in a better way , and they recourse to the great countries such France, Britain and United State of America to seek support in investing its resources , however this process made third world countries depend[i] fully on the west and fell on economic dependency.  

On the other hand, Most of African continent States recourse to international Financial institutions as the case in International Monetary Fund and world Bank ,that made her fall in the problem of debits and dependence on foreign supports which was conditioned by necessity of applying market mechanisms and rationalizing the role of the state and encouraging the Private sector which have complicated the matter so much.                                                                              

As for the social problems, most of them focus on lack of national amalgamation, solid common social fabric, spread of diseases such as AIDS , Malaria, Cholera especially in Rwanda Congo and Somali.

In fact, the weak health care, spread of illiteracy, lack national culture and prevalence of ethnic, religious and sect cultures are considered to be one of the most important social problems in African states.                                                               

In connection to foreign side, the third world states have face big international challenges made by the New Order System after the collapse of the communist block and complete power of the western liberal system. Therefore most of the one Ruling Party Systems have collapsed, and in turn multi party system based on western multi liberal thought is prevailed. This step has encouraged public uprisings and popular pressures that demand the democracy to ensure human rights and freedoms.

Accordingly, regional organizations have been established in third world states to face the western alliances and to realize regional cooperation on political, economical and cultural sides to secure its national and regional entity in attempts to face globalization and its political, economic and cultural impacts. One of the most important of these organizations  is: (Asian Organization) which have emerged in South East Asia, (African Union) and Arab league.                                        


Due to inability suffered by African Unity Organization, especially after the biggest international developments took place in 1990-1992 , the African countries have taken paces forward to activate the regional and continental cooperation on economy, policies, Military and Culture, in attempts to get rid of crisis suffered by the African States. The African Unity Organization has been activated following the declaration on establishment of African Union in (2001) located in Addis with open membership against all African countries. In 2002 the African Union replaced the African Unity Organization.            

Another regional organization has emerged within African continent like” NEPAD , which has been established on (2001) and aims at formulating programs and policies that associated with realization of African renaissance especial on economic side.

Also ( COMESA Organization) which means common market for east and south Africa as an independent organization for cooperation in developing its natural as well as human recourses in 1982.                                                                              

IGAD organization is one of regional organization has been established in 198—to include east Africa countries particularly, the horn African countries ( Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and Djibouti . This organization aims at preparing common developmental projects among its members.              

Challenges and Impediments face by African Youth:-

1/ Challenges and Impediments associated with Geography and Culture:

Geography, climate factors, climate changes and culture of community of which African youth emanated from constitute an obstacle against the African renaissance such as: drought and desertification made by deforestation and lack of importance of forest due to illiteracy and behavior   of communities in African courtiers that led to wars and conflicts among African tribes over water and grass as we have seen in Darfur tribal problems in Sudan as example.                              

2/ Geography and political Institutions:

Geography is an independent factor has no clear impact, However the appropriate geography will affect the development through its impact on institution. The appropriate Geography will in establishing good institutions, and the same will push the gear of economic development.    

However, How can the appropriate geography encourage the establishment of good institutions?. The study found out that all countries covered by the sample were previous colonized , in this regards, European have followed a number of colonized strategies, and due to Geography and climate reasons, they decided to settle in North America and Australia and established some institutions to protects private property in attempts to minimizes the role of the state there.

3/Colony and Dependency:

Because, the rich and great nations or the capitalist have exploited the third world countries, they made the prices of raw materials so low but let manufactured material prices by it shooting high. And its multinational partnership remains achieving huge profits at the account of poor countries in the margin.

Role of African Youth In development:

If we see the comprehensive development as a central issue in this paper, then African youth role can be defined in three key axles represent the three dimensions of development( politically, socially and economic dimensions) as followings:-

1/ Political development:

The political development is a formation of political culture on human rights and its duties, and it is considered to be as an update to political life through systems, power, political performance, broadening base of participation, enhancing principle of citizenship on rights and duties, boosting principle of affiliation to homeland and continent as a whole and youth in African community.                                    

Youth roles in political development represent the followings:-

1/ Youth play a vital and effective role in making free media to discuss problems of development without fear, because they don’t have some to loose, however on the opposite side there are some categories seek to block out media when discussing problems of developments for the sake of their seats of power and personal interests.

2/ Valuable contribution in enhancing behavior and practice of democracy in trade unions and political parties especially if they have been brought up in a better way to practice political participation.

3/ Supporting African communities with promising youth leaders who have strong determination in making the required change to build a better reality for their homelands and African continent which she look as same as hurt even in drawing it provides Africans and humanity with love, passion ,security and commitment                     .                                                                                                    

4/ providing help and huge product potentials that contribute in realizing a big product success if youth have been mobilized and convinced with the importance of participation in development for the sake of the community.                                                                                   

5/ Youth are talent and very clever, they are able design and set successful projects of works and programs that can to convince thinkers and planers and contribute hugely to resolve different development problems.                                    

6/ Youth can contribute in programs of removal of illiteracy in the community and participate in raising awareness and education among population and enable them to know their duties and rights.                                                                                

2/ Social development:

Roles played by youth in social development are so much, some of which can be highlighted as following:-

  • Youth play a vital role in fighting bad practices when selected by specialized institutions.
  • Correct Social upbringing will enable youth fully secured from all problems preventing him/her from performing his pioneer role in development.
  • Youth can be able to launch a awareness campaigns to educate the community with dangers loomed ahead to African nation.
  • Youth can help in fastening social fabric especially in war and conflicts areas and can provide effective participation in social peace building from the within.
  • African Social links of youth constitute center of political, social, and diplomatic contact in the far run.
  • Youth in their cultural forums through social works exchange ideas and find solutions for many communal problems they suffer from.

3/ Economic development:

  • Local development projects: It is productive projects enable African youth to take the concern of product and productivity to shift the African community from consumer to producer and enable him/her to participate in projects that help in increasing the rate of family incomes.
  • Providing workers and employees with partnership projects to increase the annual income and overcome the image of position in youth mind which has been preventing them from involving in productive projects that help to improve their incomes and to combat unemployment.
  • Contributing in dissemination of youth innovations and adopting their ideas and translate them into pioneer development projects that make youth key participants in economic mobilization in their countries as they see themselves as an integral part of achieving development.
  • Youth can play a central role in communal mobilization and convince other communities’ sect to design all development projects.

Great Developmental Projects:

Youth play valuable role in major projects.

  1. Water Harvest Project: Youth can be exploited in projects designated for stability of community, because most of recent crisis arise in community are characterized as farmer type, as we can see in Darfur region, Sudan.
  2. Different mining projects: Youth contribute at big percentage of workforce in these projects. Therefore, participation of youth in such development projects will increase the National Income Rate and minimize foreign workers of International and local mining companies.
  3. African Youth can play a significant role in planting forests and trees in the area exposed to desertification through oriented   mobilization efforts made in different African countries.
  4. Participation of youth in African summits as well as international and regional conferences has a positive return and will enable the youth to be aware of their regional issues and to know how to resolve them.
  5. Exchange of experience by conducting educational and cultural exchange among African youth such as scholarships in African or different international universities. By doing so the spirit of loyalty to African continent will be deepen.
  6. Youth can be absorbed in major infrastructure projects in African countries after they obtain adequate training courses on roads, bridges, dams constructions, airports, cities, resorts, and hotels construction .
  7. African youth can participate in sanitation projects and rural development by launching heath and educational campaigns to educate communities with their issues of concern and how to resolve it.
  8. Providing the African youth with necessary support by financing their projects through banks and loans, By doing so the African youth can make African continent enjoying renaissance as the same as civilized nations.


  1. Building up economic partnership towards regional economic alliance to benefit from opportunities provided by economic globalization.
  2. Working to find an end to conflicts disputes in African countries by establishing mechanisms for this purpose.
  3. Activating the role of Civil Society Organization to participate in national amalgamation.
  4. Activating Security aspects to handle security problems such as: terrorism, marine piracy, international and foreign interventions.
  5. Benefiting from cultural components of African nations by interacting and provide opportunities for continent sons to study in African university.
  6. Necessity of upbringing African youth on democracy to achieve political participation.
  7. Necessity of educating youth and providing opportunities to employ new graduate in governments and finance their projects by banks and support funds.
  8. Disseminating culture of peace and sports as well as encouraging decent completion among African youth to serve development issues.
  9. Boosting value of homeland loyalty and Africa as well by educational methods and providing youth with basic services.
  10. Avoiding ethnic strife and all kind of phenomena of violence among African youth.
  11. Importance of resolving Youth problems by employment, training, and opening job opportunities by initiating organized migration.
  12. Combating crime of drugs, addict, human trafficking and others through education and filling their spare time by establishing cultural and sports clubs, parks, and cinema.
  13. Importance of cultural and educational exchange as well as experience among all African states to serve development issues and fight poverty.
  14. Conducting adequate training for youth leaders to enable them to perform an effective role in political development.
  15. Revising the regulating principles of Civil Society Organizations and structure of political parties to adopt Good Administration Measures meet its programs and activities to encourage youth toward political and communal participation.
  16. To separate as possible between political and voluntary work to ensure encouragement and provide those who have no interest in political work with incentives.
  17. Enhancing the role of Social Upbringing Institutions: families, youth clubs, and media mean to encourage the political and social participation.
  18. Media apparatus should adopt cultural and media programs to promote for political Social participation locally as well as internationally.
  19. Raising awareness of youth by conducting forums, workshops, training courses and other capacity building means   on political and rights issues to enable them to lead change in the community.
  20. Conducting more studies in the field of political and social participation of youth.
  21. Reconsidering the structure of regional organization and unions in African countries to activate its roles towards economic and political reform.
  22. Encouraging research and studies at universities as well as in research center to study all youth issues and impediments of development in African continent.
  23. Governments in African states should give youth chances of participation in planning and implementing development projects and provide youth with successful experience to lead events and economic institutions to ensure a better future to the continent.
  24. Combating bad practice in African communities, and encouraging educational campaigns through Civil Society Organizations, non-governmental organizations and doubling efforts with states and governments by involving local and regional organization towards this direction.                 

[i]Translated by Elfatih Makki for Translation and Interpretation-Email:,

Revised by Dr. Adam Holi: email:

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