A new study by the Nairobi-based African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) and the University of Southampton (UK) analysing youth demographics in the East African Community (EAC) shows decades of ‘very high fertility in Africa’ coupled with rapidly declining child mortality creating a population age-structure dominated by young people under the age of 25.
The report which examined youth demography in the 4 East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda revealed that around 20% of the 127 million people in the four countries are between the ages of 15 and 24 which means they can be categorized as ‘youth’, in accordance with the United Nations definition of the term.
AFIDEP’s report summarizes the findings of a research on the socioeconomic implications of youth demographics in the four East African Community (EAC) countries, and proffered recommendations to governments and development partners working in the region.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says youths not engaged in education, employment or training were more vulnerable to engaging in social vices since they were neither improving their future employability through investments in vital skills nor gaining work experience through employment.
As a result, this group faces the real danger of being shut out of the labour market and being excluded in society, says the ILO. Consequently, these young people become prone to getting into the cycle poverty, which make them susceptible to being used for criminal activities including terrorism.
Furthermore, this category of youths could also join the pursuit for better life abroad by becoming labour migrants – a phenomenon that has played out in African countries with similar youth demographics – and consequently becoming victims of human trafficking.
This is what happens when a growing youth population becomes an obstacle to socio-economic growth instead of a driving force for economic boom; when governments and other key stakeholders fail to take the necessary measures to tap into the potential of young people.
The study cites Tunisia and South Africa as notable examples of countries that have failed to maximise their demographic dividend despite transitioning to a population age structure with significantly more people in the working ages than dependants.
The East African Regional Analysis of Youth Demographics could be found here goo.gl/4j2L4R
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