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African Youth in Waithood
Montag, 2. November 2015, 19:00 - 21:00
Alcinda Honwana, Visiting Professor at The Open University, Milton-Keyns, UK
Omar Belhaj Salah, The European Institute of High International Studies, Nice, France
Moderation: Monika Kalcsics, journalist, ORF/Ö1, Vienna
Welcome: Franz Schmidjell, VIDC
Young Africans are experiencing ‘waithood’, a prolonged period between adolescence and adulthood. As a result of a lack of jobs and not being able to support a family, young people are stuck in ‘waithood’, when they cannot expect assistance from parents or the state but do not enjoy the privileges of full-fledged adulthood either.
With 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 and another 400 million under 14, Africa has the youngest population in the world. In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate is 30%, and even worse in some Sub-Sahara African countries. Young women feel the sting of unemployment even more sharply, regardless of their skills. Young Africans are better educated than their parents and have higher expectations, but they are less likely to have jobs or political influence.
Disaffected young people risk their lives trying to reach Europe. Others join radical groups such as Boko Haram or the “Islamic State”. Youth protesting their socio-economic and political marginalization have been able to change governments in Tunisia and Burkina Faso.
Has the social contract – under which society integrates its youth into the economy as productive adults – been broken under the neoliberal paradigm? Is the ‘waithood’ generation entering an era in which they are manipulated by the elites into fighting ethnic and religious conflicts? Or will they find ways to fight for their own socio-economic and political rights?