Youth leadership initiatives are fundamental for a growing economy and especially in Africa. Africa’s youth demographic has been described as both its greatest asset as well as its greatest challenge. Harnessing this potential requires an extensive input in equipping them with leadership capabilities to realise present and future opportunities.
Strathmore Business School in collaboration with The African Leadership Institute (AFLI) launched the African Youth Initiative Report, a study conducted by the African Leadership Institute on Tuesday 28th August 2018. The launch stirred conversations on leadership initiatives focused on young Africans and their consequent economic impact to the continent. With a total of 105 youth leadership initiatives, approximately 700,000 young Africans have been exposed to some form of leadership initiative and had to undergo some selection criteria to be accepted in the initiatives.
A response to the African development challenge, has been in the form of initiatives designed to address the leadership deficit on the continent by raising new generation of African leaders. Despite the best intentions of these leadership initiatives, young people remain conspicuous by their absence at various decision-making platforms at National, Regional and Continental levels.
Janah Ncube, Global Campaigns Director at Crisis Action spoke vividly of the influence of intergenerational gap and how it affects leadership transition from the elderly to the youth. Kanini Mutooni, the Investment Director at East Africa Trade and Investment Hub added on to the sentiments made by Ncube, emphasizing that Leadership should be fronted at the Homestead. In the African context, children are taught not to speak when not spoken to as a way of showing respect to the elderly. This mantra consequently, turned the youth into mere recipients of the decisions, instead of active contributors to the process. She encouraged the youth to be vocal on their ideas.
The mindset surrounding how the youth in Africa are perceived, has also been one of the challenges affecting their contribution in decision making processes, despite the numerous leadership initiative programs. “When you change the way you look at things, the things that you look at will change,” said Ladé Araba, Africa Regional Representative at Convergence Finance.
Leadership Programs designed for the youth should pay attention to the unique needs of the African continent. By embracing a holistic view of how these initiatives are impacting the youth leaders in co-creating solutions to Africa’s pressing challenges, the continent addresses the vacuum which manifests itself in institutions due to the lack of deliberate succession planning and a lack of knowledge transfer from one generation to another.