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African governments must double youth investments or face looming crisis

World Economic Forum, Durban, South Africa: the ONE Campaign urges African governments to increase investments in Africa’s exploding youth population, focused on education, employment and empowerment or face deeper poverty and widespread instability.

DURBAN, South Africa – ONE urges African leaders attending the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) to take bold actions to reap the benefits of Africa’s fast-growing population, estimated to almost double by 2050. WEFA’s meeting of regional and global leaders from business, government and civil society focused on economic development opportunities issues facing the continent. ONE is calling on African governments to urgently increase and implement investments in young people between 2017 and 2020 to avoid plunging the continent into a crisis.

The African continent stands to add $15 trillion to its economy over the next 30 years, but these gains are largely dependent on governments making investments now to ensure that young people have the skills they need to contribute to the workforce, as well as job opportunities, and health, social and financial support. Turning the increase in Africa’s population into concrete benefits will require smart policies and investments in education, employment and empowerment, particularly for women and young people, who face additional barriers to completing their education, entering and advancing within the workforce, and achieving overall empowerment.

ONE recommends a doubling of development financing from the current $60 billion to $120 billion by 2020 to meet the needs of the continent’s growing population. African governments should be at the forefront of making these investments with development partners backing them.

If African leaders invest with ambition, urgency and efficiency between 2017 and 2020, the continent’s youth can drive a surge in inclusive growth that will benefit the world as a whole. If they do not, the world might witness a colossal socially destabilising effect of nations driven by a massive hopeless and disenfranchised youth population, with severe consequences for continental and global security.

ONE Africa Interim Director, Nachilala Nkombo said: “Africa heads of states at their July 2017 AU summit must agree on a set of investment targets to be made starting from 2017-2020 required to prevent a demographic disaster and ensure a dividend. Africa states urgently need the implementation of smart policies and targeted investments that focus on delivering education, employment and empowerment for its exploding youth population.  Failure by our governments to grasp this opportunity will result in increased deepened poverty, conflicts, terrorism and famine that will spill over individual country’s borders.

“As the G20 focuses on Africa this year, it is important that they focus their partnerships and Compacts with Africa between 2017 – 2020 on investments and reforms that will accelerate the creation of millions of opportunities and jobs for Africa’s exploding population.”

Notes to editors

  • ONE Africa recommends a strategy through which investments in Africa could be doubled, targeted and illicit capital flight at least halved, by 2020. This combination of increased quality and quantity of both internally and externally generated resources should be targeted towards specific interventions to improve education, employment and empowerment outcomes.
  • To reap the benefits of an African demographic dividend, African leaders must increase the quantity and quality of education spending in their country budgets with the aim of getting 15.6 million more girls into school in Africa by 2020.
  • Increase domestic budgets for education to reach 5.8% of GDP. In order to benefit from its younger population, Africa must create jobs and halve the proportion of young Africans (aged 15 – 24) who are unemployed from 60% to 30% by 2020.
  • Ensure all development finance flows are conditional on implementation of open government best practice, especially citizens being able to monitor government budgets, and public procurement and contracting processes being fully open.

For more information, please contact: Yannick Tshimanga on +27 (0) 63 698 1093 or email [email protected]

About ONE

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organisation of nearly 8 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, ONE raises public awareness and presses political leaders to combat AIDS and other preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. It is working with the African Union Commission and several partners to bring focus on the urgent need for African governments to invest in the exploding youth population.