Africa's Untapped Resource: Analyzing Youth in the APRM
Africa is the next frontier – a continent full of possibility, a market of untapped and underutilised natural and human resources. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the youth populations of African states. Africa in 2015 exists in a context in which global economic growth rates have slowed, as have global population growth rates. By contrast, sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing an average 6% annual economic growth rate. Africa also has the fastest-growing and most youthful population in the world. Over 40% of Africa’s people are under the age of 15 and 20% are between the ages of 15 and 24 (African Development Bank 2012). This environment offers the potential for an increasing youth population to drive economic growth on the continent. The question is, however, are the youth being equipped for the task at hand? Since 2003, 17 African countries have undergone an African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) country review. Of the 16 country review reports (CRRs) published in English, five – Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Kenya and Sierra Leone – specifically mention challenges relating to youth as a major ‘cross-cutting issue’. Youth-related issues are, however, addressed to some extent in all the reports. While references to youth vary across the reports, the text-mining methodology applied in this research suggests that the overwhelming majority of references to youth are found in the ‘Democracy and Good Political Governance’ and ‘Socio-Economic Governance’ thematic chapters.