As Africa continues on the road to economic repair and sustainable growth, of the many pressing challenges, youth unrest and violent crime are arguably the most distressing as described by many.
Basic Challenges affecting
Before arriving at the means of tackling youth unrest, it is important to consider the developmental obstacles facing Africans in general, and its youth in particular.
Africa’s infrastructure deficit runs into billions of dollars, a situation that severely impairs entrepreneurial development. Business opportunities are, moreover, not equitably distributed over rural and urban areas, a condition that hexes development of new ventures and expansion of existing ones. A practically non-existent rail network and the extremely poor condition of roads have combined to further hamper the continent’s business environment and investment climate.
Electricity is another area of concern in this context. Power availability is far short of demand, to say the least, and supply is largely erratic even in relatively developed urban areas. Most businesses are forced to run on expensive generators, while frequent outages leave many other facing break-ins and other criminal activities.
The communication infrastructure also calls for massive restoration and growth, especially telecommunication and internet services. Africa’s existing and emerging entrepreneurs alike continue to face tremendous hurdles in connecting with markets and potential investors. Although there has been tangible development in the communication sector over the last decade, it still presents enormous challenges.
Entrepreneurship development has also been hamstrung by a slew of financial factors, poor access to credit for small businesses being the most prominent. The absence of credit and tax regimes sympathetic to entrepreneurial realities is a core area of concern, together with the predominance of lending through debt over equity.
Standards of education, restricted access to vocational training programmes, limited use of technology and the high cost of doing business are additional aspects requiring resolution for the African countries to achieve rapid entrepreneurial growth.
The Way Ahead
Clearly, there are diverse issues that negatively impact business development in Africa. For its significant youth population, decades of under-investment in the social sector and the failure of employment generation programmes have combined to create a climate of unrest. The volatile mix of rampant poverty, inflation and joblessness have led to a situation where criminality is very often the only means of survival. Reversing this trend calls for a fundamental shift in official outlook and vigorous changes in four key areas:
Training and Education: From the perspective of entrepreneurial development and youth mobilization, the importance of wholesome and practical education simply cannot be overstated. The current dispensation of leadership continues to place great importance on vocational training and skills development programmes for the youth by way of equipping them to meet business challenges. However, such measures need to be standardized across the education system and quality-upgraded to meet current realities.
Government Programmes: Some nation’s government have initiated several landmark measures to foster enterprise development, including setting up of the National Directorate of Employment, the Medium Enterprises Development Agency and the Bank of Industry. However, more effective steps are called for in order to increase youth participation in developmental schemes and in shaping social consensus on important macroeconomic issues. Encouraging youth leadership in both the public and private sectors remains crucial to leveraging their full economic potential.
Financial Restructuring: Access to capital being one of the biggest setbacks in promoting youth entrepreneurialism, Africa needs to focus on devising and implementing radical policy changes in the financial sector. Banks and lending institutions require outlook-reorientation and sensitizing to small business requirements as part of an effort to boost financial access to emerging enterprises.
Rural Barriers: Special attention must be given to developing business opportunities in rural areas, which significantly lag behind urban regions both qualitatively and quantitatively. Sufficient care must be given to enforce policies that favor localized and socially relevant enterprise across the varied landscapes.
The problem of youth unrest in Africa cannot be viewed in isolation from its larger socio-economic challenges. Africa must acknowledge its historic failure in meeting the aspiration of its youth, and come up with creative solutions that sufficiently harness their energies for durable and inclusive prosperity.
- Boettke, P. (2007), “Editorial: entrepreneurial rеѕроnѕе to роvеrtу аnd ѕосiаl соnfliсt: thе еntеrрriѕе Africa project”, Journal оf the Inѕtitutе оf Economic Affаirѕ.
- Collier, P. (2006), “Editоriаl: rеthinking аѕѕiѕtаnсе tо Afriса”, Jоurnаl оf thе Inѕtitutе оf Eсоnоmiс Affаirѕ, Cоmmiѕѕiоn fоr Africa Report (2005), “Our common intеrеѕt”, Lоndоn,
- Unitеd Nаtiоnѕ Economic Cоmmiѕѕiоn fоr Africa (UNECA) (2008), Suѕtаinаblе Dеvеlорmеnt Rероrt оn Afriса, UNECA, Addiѕ Abаbа.