Africa’s sleeping bear – the continental youth bulge


Jacob Beck


The continent has the world’s youngest population with over 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24. In fact, the continent’s working age population is expected to exceed 1 billion within just 17 years.

This poses a serious problem in terms of employment prospects. With so many young people, the job hunt looks bleak.

With that in mind, a number of major funders have begun looking towards education and employment initiatives in Africa, including a number of tech companies striving to increase access to technology and digital skills to young people.

Google has stepped up recently, announcing a commitment of $20 million over the next five years to create jobs, grow businesses, and boost economies.

Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor.

According to Juliet Ehimuan-Chiazor, Google’s country manager in Nigeria, ‘There’s an urgent need to create opportunities for the millions of people on the continent who are creative, smart, and driven to succeed. The internet, and technology as a whole, offer great opportunities.’

This new pledge succeeds Google’s previous goal to train at least 1 million people, either in person or online, in things like building a web presence, searching for jobs, and using social media.

Exceeding their projected goal, they now plan to train an additional 10 million people for jobs over the next five years, primarily focusing on Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.

Google has already awarded grants totalling $2.5 million to Gidi Mobile, an Africa mobile technology startup that offers an online learning platform, and Siyavula, which offers free downloadable textbooks for grade 4 through 12. Google is still seeking nonprofits that are working to ‘improve lives across Africa.’

In addition, Google plans to launch an Impact Challenge in Africa, awarding a total of $5 million in grants to local nonprofits that are making their communities better places to work and live. Another $3 million will be granted to over 60 African startups over the next free years in the form of funding, mentorships, working spaces, and access to experts.

Finally, Google plans to increase accessibility and functionality to their products in Africa.

It is clear now that the youth of the world are not being neglected by global philanthropy. As Google works to provide opportunities for African youth, they work to create a more friendly and promising future to members of the global youth bulge.

This is promising for people around the world as we move towards more sustainable and stronger workplace prospects and global communities.

Jacob Beck is a student at the University of Minnesota and is currently a Communications and Marketing intern with Alliance.

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