With almost 60% of Africa's population under the age of 25, the continent proudly stands as the youngest on the planet. By 2050, its population is projected to double, positioning this surging youth demographic as Africa's biggest opportunity for growth, innovation, and sustainable development.
United by a shared vision, a momentous gathering of esteemed business leaders, Influential African creatives, policymakers, digital champions, and leading entrepreneurs from diverse industries was held last Friday in Lagos, Nigeria, to explore how Africa can secure its future by unlocking the power of its youth, culture, and creative economy.
Organized by Africa Soft Power in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and African Women on Board, the event focused on the intricate relationship between digital platforms, technology adoption, youth empowerment, and creative entrepreneurship.
According to Nkiru Balonwu, Founder and Creative Director of Africa Soft Power, "As a country and as a continent, it is imperative to include young people and women in every leadership space. From #EndSARS to #Congoisbleeding and other several social movements that the continent has witnessed in recent years, we have seen what happens when we do not provide the needed inclusion and security for women and young people."
“We will continue to have these conversations, shining the light on the immense opportunities that Africa's soft power, deeply rooted in its vibrant culture and youthful population, offers for growth. While the advent of digital media and advancements in technology are providing African youth with platforms to express their talents, shape their own narratives, and build successful careers across various industries, we remain committed to advancing conversations that will help the continent leverage this growth potential,” Nkiru added.
Even as the creative and knowledge industries offer immense opportunities for young Africans, there are still threats out there - and high on that list is insecurity. Security is an intersectional issue that affects everything from basic human rights, living standards, trade, prosperity, freedom of movement, access to education, gender equality, etc. The absence of security is one of the factors limiting innovation and economic growth in many areas of the continent.
The event featured a panel session, moderated by Folashade Anozie, Founder & CEO, Nonconform Productions. Panellists and experts on the session include; Njideka Agbo, Founder and CEO Glann Media Consult & Fmr. Editor, Guardian Life Magazine; Hon. Akintunde Oyebode, Commissioner of Finance & Economic Development, Ekiti State; Dr Seun Fakorede, Commissioner For Youth and Sports, Oyo State and Adaora Ikenze, Director, Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa at Meta.
“You can’t solve the problem of security where there is an absence of fairness and justice," said Hon Akintunde Oyebode, Commissioner of Finance & Economic Development, Ekiti State. “A big driver of crime is the absence of consequence, this is why you will find that in a society where there's an absence of consequence, people often gravitate towards crime.
“The challenge of security in Nigeria is a hydra-headed problem. In some parts of the country, there are major kidnappings ongoing, in other parts, there is a drug problem, but at the heart of it all is a clear admission that state capacity has been waning for a while and has gotten to a point where it is simply incapable of responding to social issues”, concludes Akintunde.
Njideka Agbo, Founder and CEO Glann Media Consult & Former Editor, Guardian Life Magazine, maintained that the lack of security and inclusion is responsible for the brain drain in Nigeria and parts of Africa. “At a time, people were excited to come back to Nigeria, but all that has changed. In 2018, we were the 4th largest group of asylum seekers in the European Union, because more and more people keep moving out in search of greener pastures, more opportunities and better security. The level of patriotism that the youth show to their country is determined by the level of appreciation that they get from the Government, alongside the security and inclusion that the country provides for them, she added.
Securing The Future: Youth Power, Culture & the Creative Economy was an important platform for both government stakeholders and young voices across several industries to engage each other. As global stakeholders rally behind Africa's ambition, it is imperative to acknowledge the fundamental role that youth power and the creative economy play in building a prosperous continent.