Africa’s Youth Poised to Drive Innovation

Technological innovation is becoming a major economic and social development accelerator on the African continent. The world’s population is set to increase from the 7.6 billion people we currently have. According to the UN, the world population will increase by another four billion people by 2100. What is the main reason for this? It’s not because more children will be born, It’s because there will be more adults. The youth of the world are set to mature.

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How these young people will be distributed around the world is even more interesting. Africa’s demographics are unique from the rest of the world in the sense that we are continent of young people.

It is predicted that within a period of three generations, 41 per cent of the world’s youth will be Africans. It is also expected that by 2030, Africa’s labour force will be larger than China’s and larger than India’s by 2035. So it comes as no surprise that the combination of Africa’s youth and technological innovation, which the youth are known to take up enthusiastically, is a potent contender for great things for the continent. Harnessed, the right way, with skill and employment this resource could very well be what frees the roughly half a billion people in Africa today from the jaws of poverty.

Fortunately, some international tech companies have realised this and have started making efforts. Google is one of those companies and they have come up with an initiative dubbed Launchpad Accelerator for Africa. This is a three-month programme where start-ups picked from various African countries are brought together for training, mentorship and ecosystem immersions. I recently attended one of their graduation ceremonies in Lagos, Nigeria and the potential for growth in Africa through tech innovation is huge. In this day and era there are no tech companies perse, owing to the fact that tech has permeated our lives to the point where ‘business as usual’ is no longer possible without some form of tech. In essence, one can reliably say all businesses are tech businesses.

Serious gain can be gleaned from solving the problems we have in Africa and establishing gainful employment of our youth if we infuse technology into our everyday life even more. That became real for me during this event and I believe more conversations should be had about this. In the coming weeks we will look at some of those startups and their impact and hopefully gain some insight into how this can be replicated in different sectors for the sake of our youth.

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