On December 18, 2010 we saw numerous protests envelope northern Africa and the Arab world, leading to the ousting of Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan leaders. The high concentration of wealth, lack of opportunity, corruption, insufficient government transparency, and, notably, the youth’s refusal to accept the status quo were the primary catalysts for the protests. Ultimately, the demonstrations were dubbed the “Arab Spring” which investigates the impact of those uprisings on African youth.
Although youth activists played critical roles in driving and managing the protests in most countries, their role will likely diminish in the near future. Historically, youth movements generally lack the organization, leadership, and comprehensive policy plat-forms necessary to sustain them. Moreover, many youth organizations are un-aware of already existing policies designed to empower the youth; take for instance, the African Youth Charter.
Unfortunately, the Arab Spring came during the period of a global economic downturn, making economic reforms more difficult. Consequently, youth unemployment in North Africa has increased sharply following the Arab Spring. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), youth un-employment in North Africa has risen by almost five percentage points between 2010 and 2011.
In the Maghreb region, increasing emphasis has been placed on decreasing government dependency and fostering entrepreneurship.
The actions taken by the youth activists during the Arab Spring gave voice to their concerns about their individual futures, as well as that of their countries. These events provide hope for democracy and the overall respect of citizens’ rights. If this revolution proves successful we can thank our youth leaders for taking our continent to the next level of political and economic development.
Let us not look at North Africa only but also focus on East Africa as well. The issue of youth unemployment cuts across the whole East African region in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. The East African integration should put this into consideration on how these young people will be empowered. My beloved country Uganda tried her best to put aside the so called Youth Venture Capital Fund which brought in more harm than good to the Government and other people and up to now the issue has remained mysterious and remained more of a slogan.
Governments should know that the ‘’youth are a resource not a liability neither are they special species from a different planet’’, they only need to be understood and they also need to understand other people around them in order to foster streamlined National service delivery and create a conducive environment that brings back patriotism for the country not the saying that ‘’one man for himself then God for us all’’.
Why should one or two individuals swindle almost a whole budget of a ministry in two or more few days yet this ministry project is supposed to cater for the entire country? Unless these selfish and self styled individuals are brought to account for their deeds, we shall not nurture competent, efficient, honest and trustworthy civil servants that are able and willing to diligently serve their Country with one heart of no individualism.
How long will it take to know that trends change and will always change, there are no drugs in Government hospitals simply because people are not patriotic. Uganda has enough drugs, hospital in-charges and District Health Officers have to be accountable to the people at grass-root level.
My concern is more on the patients that are living positively and are already on ARVS, how are we maintaining them? And now that the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has gone high, how are we preventing the Youth who are the majority from new infections? Focus on this vulnerable groups for the betterment of our Country and the entire world.
AKAMPA R.JOHNSON TANBULL
SRHR Youth Advocate & Nation Peer Trainer
SRHR ALLIANCE UGANDA, SCHOOL NET UGANDA. E-mail: [email protected]