Beyond Rhetoric Engaging Africa’s Youth in Democratic Governance

Published: 2017
Briefing paper
The overview presented in this brief, discusses the continental normative framework on youth engagement by the African Union (AU). It argues that there is a disconnect, both in theory and practice, between youth rights and freedoms on the African continent. The important roles of the AU, is highlighted in this brief, as well as the regional economic communities and member states in meaningfully engaging the youth in governance processes. It explores ways for the youth to assist the continent in achieving sustainable development, preventing human rights violations and harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend. This policy brief indicates that much more needs to be done to ensure that young people are engaged meaningfully by their governments in democratic governance and development processes. The views of young men and women in all five African regions during the 2016 youth consultations have left little doubt that the vast majority of young people still feel alienated and marginalized. They are either left out of decision-making processes completely or are involved in a tokenistic manner only. Unemployment has hit young people hardest and even where work is available, it is seldom sufficient to provide a dignified livelihood. The AU, RECs and member states are continually being challenged to speak the language of the youth. In the age of information technology, young people are revolutionizing civic engagement and participation through innovative tools and platforms.