Africa's hope lies in its youth

From Global development | The Guardian Mon Nov 12 2012, 16:47:31

Archbishop uses Mo Ibrahim award speech to inspire young people as forum in Dakar debates looming employment crisis

"Young people really are dreamers. They dream of a better kind of world," archbishop Desmond Tutu said this weekend as he was presented with a one-off special award from the Mo Ibrahim Foundation during its annual governance weekend in Dakar, which this year focused on Africa's massive population of young people.

In his acceptance speech, Tutu addressed young people in the audience and around the world, saying: "[Young people] were at the forefront of the Arab Spring. Don't be affected by the cynicism of 'oldies' like us. Go ahead and dream of a different kind of world. How can we continue to spend billions on instruments of death and destruction when a small part of that could ensure children everywhere have clean water? You young people are our hope."

Africa is the only continent with a significantly growing youth population. In less than three years, 41% of the world's youth will be African and yet almost half the world's out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa. Counter-intuitively, youth unemployment increases with education level in Africa as some graduates struggle to find work that matches their qualifications.

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