By Justina Ochieng – Art in Tanzania internship

According to the world economic forum’s report, the African youth population is rapidly growing and by 2050 it will form almost 60% of all the world’s youth population. This rapid growth has also bringing with it a lot of challenges facing the youths. Unemployment has been ranked top of a list of challenges faced by Africa’s youth today. The biggest challenge the youth face is that they’re often incapable of finding a productive place within society – either within the mainstream education system or satisfactory employment.

The list below also highlights some other challenges faced by youth: unemployment, poor education system, drugs and substance abuse, pressures of materialism, lack of affordable housing, negative stereotyping, pressures of 24-hour social networking, crime.


The biggest problem facing Africa’s youth is unemployment. The youth constitutes the highest population in Africa, and they are the most vulnerable, less privileged, and unattended to in society. Many young people have become victims of negativity and unproductiveness because they are neither schooling nor engaging in economic activities. There is a common saying: “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” This is the reality behind many young people getting into the streets, and involving themselves in robbery, drug/substance abuse, violence etc. The lack of adequate youth employment has made them dangerous to society, leaving them with no alternative but to engage in terrible acts that will give them money to support their bad habits. In order to eradicate and/or reduce the high unemployment rate among the youth, the government, CSOs, NGOs, youth organizations etc. must help get the youth engaged in profitable activities such as educational programs, vocational and entrepreneurial skill training to make them self-reliant. The opportunity WAYLead is providing, to positively impact and educate the youth in leadership, would advance growth as participants would give back to their respective communities. There is a need to invest in youth empowerment programs and accelerate awareness to create the enabling environment for employment.

Lack of proper information

The youth constitute a greater part of the population in most African countries. These young people live in a rapidly changing world, faced with many pressures. One of biggest problem among Africa’s youth, in my opinion, is the lack of the development of one’s mind. Young people, on the whole, experience disquieting irritations, perplexities and adjustment problems as a result of rapid social change. There is an increase in social vices among the youth leading to appalling incidences. I believe in order for such social vices and corrupt acts to be curbed, one’s mind must be developed. Bob Marley once said “None but ourselves can free our minds” The current socio-economic conditions in Africa block the progress of the African youth. Early marriages complicate matters for the youth. Ignorance, illiteracy, and insufficient knowledge about planned parenthood have resulted in an increase early childbearing. Once our minds are well developed, our way of life would change for the better.

Poor education system

One of the biggest problem facing Africa’s youth is our educational system, coupled with the lack of good employment opportunities that the educational curriculum prepares the graduates for. Africa’s youth find themselves stuck in a cycle of completing school and sitting at home without jobs mainly because our educational systems mainly  prepare us for non-existent white collar jobs. The very few enterprising youth who venture into entrepreneurship also find themselves lacking support in training and funding.

Time management

Stress & Time Management. Managing the pressure to succeed in every area of life and finding time to do it all seems to be one of the biggest challenges facing the youth today. Young people are expected to be successful, yet few of them are aware of effective time management.

Drugs and substance abuse

Drugs has become one the core problems facing youths. Out of every ten young people between the age of 16-35 years, seven have once in their lifetime use drugs or still using drugs. Many critics claim that the reason for this may be the stress and depression facing most of them due to unemployment, low self-esteem and worries about their futures. Drugs and substance abuse is mostly rampant along the coastal cities and towns of East Africa (Mombasa and Dar es Salaam).


Due to the hard economic times we are facing right now and the fact that most the African population live under a dollar a day, most of the youth have turned to crime to meet their economic needs. Robbery, stealing, burglary prostitution are among the top order of the day. Due to involvement these outlawed activities in most African countries, most the victims have found themselves lynched, gun down or in prison. Everywhere across Africa, especially in the drug infested regions, very young people lose their lives to crime and crime-related activities. Prostitution is also a problem. Many young women have turned to prostitution to make ends meet. Most cities at night are flocked by young girls selling off their bodies for a dime. Side effects being most of them end up contracting very deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS. Also there is the issue of early marriage. Very young girls who are supposed to be in school are sold of to marriages because their guardians are interested in the dowry they get in return. Because of that, most girls end up not continuing their education or making their dreams come true.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation is still one of the great challenges facing young Africans especially in the underdeveloped places. Some tribes in East Africa still insist in this act as a right of passage into womanhood. Very innocent girls are subjected to this brutal act against their own will. In worst scenarios some girls end up contracting diseases like HIV/AIDS since you may find that a single scalpel is used to mutilate a bunch of girls without any proper sterilisation of any kind. Also some girls end up with wounds that affect their sexual life forever.

Social media peer pressure

Peer pressure has also pose as a challenge. Most youth are struggling to fit in and because of that they go extra mile to prove that they are worthy of recognition and praises from their peers. Most have taken the social media thing so far; faking lifestyles even ending up in great debts in the name of appeasing their fellows on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. People have refused to face their on realities and where they stand economically, instead they end up imitating celebrities and other prominent people by the lifestyles they lead. Side effects; some have turned to crime to make ends meet. But we are advised as youth to choose wisely because the streets offer everything, from what’s best for us to what ruins us. So before impressing anyone we should think if there is anything positive we’ve gained from the whole experience.

What is been done to tackle these problems

Thanks to the governments and other concerned parties from the private sectors, a lot is being put in place to handle these situations. For example there are a lot of NGOs advocating the eradication of FGM, creation of awareness of drugs and substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and other chronic problems in the African continent. Due to the rapidly growing unemployment, most youth have turned to entrepreneurship and other creativities to earn a living. New business formation are being seen popping up each  day. This has drastically reduced the unemployment and the idleness that comes with it.


A lot has been done to tackle the problems facing the African youth and still much is yet to be done. It is everyone’s responsibility to play part in bringing the change we want. As the Swahili saying that goes ‘umoja ni nguvu utangamano ni udhaifu’, we need to unite in all the levels of our societies to make a positive impact. With the little every has whether is information, and ides or something tangible will make a difference if used for the right course. We should remember that if we do this kind-heartly without expecting anything in return, the benefits will be ours and our children’s children. Karma says that we get what we give. Its my hope this information will inspire you to be part of this great expedition to create a new Africa that we want and we will be proud of and also clear our name from all the stigmatization and misconception we are facing from the outside world.

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