Desmond Davies, London Bureau Chief
London, Oct. 27, GNA – Sub-Saharan African countries occupy the bottom 16 on the Global Youth Development Index, an initiative by the Commonwealth Secretariat, which ranks the prospects of young people in 183 countries in terms of employment, education, health, civic education and politics.
It is the first comprehensive attempt to capture the state of development of the world’s youths.
The bottom 16 on the Index – from 168 to 183 – are Tanzania, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mauritania, Benin, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad and Central African Republic.
Ghana is the top ranked sub-Saharan country at 117, while Libya is the highest ranked African country on the Index.
Although Africa recorded the largest improvement on the status of young people over the last five years, this could be attributed to the fact that the continent was coming from a low base.
Germany is the top ranked country and the top 10 countries, with the exception of Australia and Japan, are from Europe.
The Index stresses the need for more investment on young people globally because they are the future of the world, which the Australian High Commissioner to the UK, Mr Alexander Downer, whose country funded the survey, said was just stating the obvious.
He said Australia had invested a lot on improving the position of young people in the country – which was acknowledged by the fact that the country is third on the Index.
Today the world’s youth population is at an all-time high, at 1.8 billion people aged 15 to 29, with 90 per cent living in developing countries, of whom 15 per cent are in Africa.
The Index notes that the potential for ‘Generation Hope’ to contribute to a happy, healthy and prosperous future for all could be dashed by widespread joblessness, unequal access to health and education and lack of political influence.
Looking at 18 indicators, including literacy and mental disorder rates, financial inclusion and voter engagement, the Index both showcases the best-performing countries and serves as a warning light for low-scoring countries.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The Index throws down a challenge to policy-makers everywhere: without action to promote young people’s empowerment, boosting opportunities for employment and opening up spaces for political dialogue, countries will be squandering their most precious resource and storing up problems for the future.”
She said countries would be squandering their most important resource if they failed to develop the capabilities of young people.
Achaleke Leke from Cameroon, a peace activist and Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2016, took African governments to task for not doing more for young people.
“Young people have the will and capability but we do not have the support to develop to the best of our abilities,” he said.
“This report is very important for young people, especially in developing countries.
“It shows the urgency of investing in us, so that we can become leaders and innovators, and peaceful and productive citizen,” he added.
The Index notes that youth unemployment is a spectre that loomed as threateningly in developed countries as in the developing world, with youths at least twice as likely as adults to be jobless.
Young women are much less likely to enjoy access to education, health services, financial services and digital technology than young men, according to the Index.