Africa’s diverging approaches to youth inclusion and participation

Image: A young Egyptian reads a poem during the protest meeting against the military coup in Egypt to support
Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who was removed from power by the military on
November 17, 2013 in New Jersey, United States (Cem Ozdel /Anadolu Agency/Getty)
Image: A young Egyptian reads a poem during the protest meeting against the military coup in Egypt to support Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who was removed from power by the military on November 17, 2013 in New Jersey, United States (Cem Ozdel /Anadolu Agency/Getty)

Discussions about youth have taken various forms in Africa, as this segment of the population grows exponentially, propelling government responses and policy interventions to meet the needs of young people.

Summary:

  • There is policy incoherence in how frameworks are interpreted and implemented at policy and programmatic level in Africa.
  • While the traditional state-citizen relationship remains crucial for service delivery, Africa’s youth should no longer be seen just as beneficiaries but rather as stakeholders who should be empowered to participate at the level of agenda setting and decision-making for Africa’s development.
  • Africa’s youth are a key yet neglected constituency across governance processes.
  • The primary objective of participatory approaches and techniques is to ensure that the voices of ordinary citizens influence decision-making and empower them.
  • Participatory approaches for young people need to ensure that youth presence, voice and visibility are enhanced. Youth should not be an afterthought but rather be included during the formulation of policies and programmes, while civic engagement and capacity building should be integrated into school curriculums to ensure that youth are empowered to participate.
  • Some AU member states are listed as having ratified and deposited the African Youth Charter but are not signatories.
  • The African Peer Review Mechanism has been heralded as the premier instrument for enhancing good governance in Africa. It is positioned to promote youth-related frameworks and ensure a common understanding of inclusion and participation.

Key recommendations:

28 Jul 2020

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Research by
Series
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 307, June 2020
Region
Sub-Saharan Africa
SAIIA Programme
African Governance and Diplomacy
Tags
APRM, African Youth Charter, Youth, youth participation

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