Africa's growth potential lies in investing heavily in its youth

A street boy asleep at a parking lot along Landhies Road, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The aspiration and priority areas of Africa’s Agenda 2063 remain a hallmark of our forefathers' true spirit of Pan-Africanism. Examining these thoughts triggers Africa’s ‘New Common Sense’ of the modern World.

Though Africa is endowed with natural resources, its greatest resource remains its 1.4 billion people, especially the youth. This is a double-edged sword for the continent with immense potential for investment and trade. But what remains to become a catalyst to the continent's growth is each nation’s motivation to peace and unity even as nations form different trade and economic blocks.

More importantly and in recent times, African nations have exhibited maturity in democratic processes during elections, save for some few cases with alleged election malpractices and affronts to citizen freedoms. There also are negligible cases of coups and counter coups, including uprisings in a few North African Nations.

If we have to ultimately grow the Pan-Africanism spirit. We must believe in our strengths and potential economically, socially and politically. The African identity will ultimately be linked to different national experiences in nations that are nuanced with complex experiences.

Rather than leaving Pan-Africanism to be a more prevalent discussion among educated Africans of the upper class, it would be more profitable to examine what needs to be done for this discussion to start from every village in Africa. This is possible through inclusion of education systems to enlighten the young people to relate to the concepts of African unity and identity.

It is important to underscore that Africa is a culturally diverse continent, but more importantly, Africa has managed to show that it can manage to unite against common challenges and grow as a continent.

We must appreciate that current and past leaders of Africa share the challenge of tackling poverty, diseases and ignorance and maintaining our unity and common heritage. These challenges remain in some of our nations.

This must prick future leaders to have a greater spirit in thinking and actualising stronger economies, creating greater integration and stronger institutions to protect their people.

Peace and unity in individual nations blended by stronger international ties could help rejuvenate the Pan African spirit, build a united Africa and brighten its face regardless of the various formidable setbacks and challenges we face.

As we look forward into a bigger Africa, we must carefully look into the digital revolution and tap into its potential in telling the African story. It would be interesting to see a 21st century Pan African thought in the digital age reconnecting with history and culture while blending it with the ‘new sense making’ thoughts across the globe.

Over the years, the AU and its member states have been more purposeful in using the potential of their diaspora to participate in the development of the continent and its well-being while recognising that the diaspora is not only about remittances, but also a golden opportunity for the African continent to reap from their talent, the expertise and exposure it brings home.

It is upon each nation in Africa to take responsibility to seize the unique opportunity of having a growing young population and ensure they reap their demographic dividend as Africa looks forward to its demographic transition. This youthful and growing population is our greatest asset to tackle the many challenges and the work ahead.

As leaders in the continent, deliberate, strategic and key investments must be done in key sectors targeting the youth, especially education, agriculture, infrastructure and information communication technology to counter the brain drain that may be impacting negatively on the continent's inability to use its human resources. Above all, we must provide African solutions to African problems.

In my assessment, African nations must own a shared responsibility among themselves and address the concerns of the African youth; the concerns of a greater expectations for economic development and democracy through a more responsible, accountable leadership.

We must also encourage and support our leaders in Africa to increase continental dialogue through the African Union while reinforcing the political, legal and financial capabilities. Furthermore, there is a higher degree of cooperation and solidarity between African countries on mutual understanding through consultations and dialogues.

Mr Kabila is son of Laurent-Desire Kabila, former President of DRC

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