Human Development

Where are Africa’s young leaders?

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According to United Nations statistics, all 10 of the world’s nations with the youngest populations are in Africa.  The continent has a median age of just under 20 years—or, roughly half the estimated median age of the United States, (37.9 years according to CIA estimates). The irony is that at least eight African leaders have served in office for two decades, with an average age of 72. Where are Africa’syoungd leaders?

Youths are tomorrow’s leaders. This is a common saying among old African leaders. The statement has thus far proven to be instrumental in impeding the ascension of youths into positions of power. The youth’s participation in decision-making and leadership roles is being postponed to a latter-day in the future.

Why are the youth of Africa accepting this lie? Why don’t the youths of Africa self-organize and take control of leadership positions for the sake of their future? Do African youth require political power to effect change?

There is a promise that as more leadership development initiatives targeted at youths (below 40 years of age), we will see more youths in leadership positions. There is a need for an exhaustive study to ascertain who the donors and beneficiaries of these programmes are. This should help in coming up with effective collaboration mechanisms for greater impact.

To investigate this, The African Leadership Institute (AFLI)through the CEO Jackie Chimhanzi, launched its seminal report: An Abundance of Young African Leaders, but No Seat at the Table at Strathmore University in Nairobi on 28 August, 2018.  The report is the result of grant funding from the Ford Foundation with AFLI as the grantee and Strathmore University as its partner.

For Africa to reach its potential, it must harness the potential of young leaders.  African organisations fostering leadership that focus on the targeted development and the continuous nurturing of young people’s leadership capacities are crucial. Whilst a plethora of leadership development offerings exist on the continent, there has not been, to date, a holistic view of what these initiatives are. The study, therefore, represents an important step towards filling gaps in extant knowledge.

A total of 105 leadership initiatives focusing on young African leaders (18-40 year olds) and meeting other specified criteria were included in the study. The report about the research can be downloaded as a PDF here, from the AFLI website. A PDF of the study data is also available for download as a PDF.

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