"Too young to matter? How the youth will shape Africa’s future"
The Royal African Society Annual Lecture 2017 delivered by Professor Carlos Lopes
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Speaker: Professor Carlos Lopes, development economist and former head of UNECA - UN Economic Commission for Africa.
Chaired by Amina Yuguda, journalist and winner of the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award.
Welcome by Zeinab Badawi, Chair of the Royal African Society.
Africa’s youth population will almost double from 230 million to 452 million between 2015 and 2050. For many years, observers have highlighted that Africa’s demographic dividend outpaces the job opportunities available to them. The average age of Africa’s population is 19; the average age of the leaders on the continent is 65, and with an average voting age of 18, this begs the question: why do Africa’s youth continue to vote for old men?
This year marks a flurry of progressive initiatives around the topic of youth empowerment. The African Union set the theme for 2017 as ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth’ with a number of conferences in the hope of catalysing policies and industrial strategies that will transform Africa’s large youth population into a development asset. In July, the Nigerian Senate passed #NotTooYoungtoRun bill enabling young Nigerians to contest for political positions as Governors, Senators or Presidential candidates in their 30s. Kenya’s August elections saw more young people vying for office in local-level campaigns. Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, has recently called on young people to rise up and take leadership positions.
But is there need for a prioritisation of political rights over socio-economic ones? There seems to be a divergence between rhetoric and reality of youth ‘empowerment’ as opposed to youth development in Africa. Without access to better quality education, better healthcare, or employment, how will Africa’s youth effectively shape its future? How do young people on the continent navigate the generational hierarchies that are so firmly embedded?
Join us for a conversation on these topics with Professor Carlos Lopes, the guest speaker of the RAS 2017 Annual Lecture.
We invite guests to attend a wine reception in the Brunei Suite before the lecture (included in the ticket price).