By John Dramani Mahama and Siddharth Chatterjee
Last month, Spanish charity workers rescued 167 migrants arriving from Africa aboard a small boat.
2016 was the deadliest for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean, with at least 3800 deaths recorded. Most know the dangers they face on the route, yet still choose the possibility of death in overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels over the hopelessness of life in areas they reside.
Consider this. Every 24 hours, nearly 33,000 youth across Africa join the search for employment. About 60% will be joining the army of the unemployed.
A report from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees released this month claims that seven in ten of those heading for Europe are not refugees fleeing war or persecution, but economic migrants in search of better lives.
12 August 2017, is International Youth Day.
Africa’s youth population is growing rapidly and is expected to reach over 830 million by 2050. Whether this spells promise or peril depends on how the continent manages its “youth bulge”.
According to the World Bank, 40% of people who join rebel movements are motivated by lack of economic opportunity. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted, “The frustration generated in young people that have no hope in the future is a major source of insecurity in today’s world. And it is essential that when Governments plan their economic activities, when the international community develops forms of cooperation, they put youth employment, youth skills at the centre of all priorities… “
Some estimates indicate that more than half a million Africans migrated to European Union countries between 2013 and 2016, adding to the millions flowing in from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghnistan and parts of Asia.
Many of Africa’s young people remain trapped in poverty that is reflected in multiple dimensions, blighted by poor education, access to quality health care, malnutrition and lack of job opportunities.
For many young people-and especially girls- the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services is depriving them of their rights and the ability to make decisions about their bodies and plan their families. This is adversely affecting their education and employment opportunities.
According to UNDP’s Africa Human Development Report for 2016, gender inequalities cost sub-Saharan Africa US$ 95 billion annually in lost revenue. Women’s empowerment and gender equality needs to be at the top of…