Africa’s Surprising Future
Monday, May 11, 2015
Africa’s population is growing rapidly — and unlike much of the world, it’s also getting younger. Based on current trends, the continent’s population is poised to increase from just over 1 billion today to more than 4 billion by the end of the century. And while countries like the United States, Japan and many of those in Europe are aging, within the next 35 years, 40% of all our planet’s children will likely call Africa home.
Some analysts worry that the continent isn’t prepared for this youth bulge. Yet the reality is that as Africa grows, its economies, cultural dynamics and aspirations are evolving with it. It’s something I’ve seen myself. And in fact having spent significant time in the region, I can say confidently that there are some very good reasons to be optimistic about what is awaiting the next generation of African leaders.
Perhaps the most encouraging trend in Africa today is the growing role of women and girls in economic and social development. As Chelsea Clinton mentioned during her tour of Clinton Foundation projects last week with former President Bill Clinton, girls have nearly achieved paritywith boys in primary schools worldwide. In Kenya, girls actually outnumber boys in primary schools, although that progress isn’t sustained at later ages.
This is especially important to me as my organization, Shining Hope For Communities (SHOFCO), works to combat gender inequality and extreme poverty in urban slums by linking tuition-free schools for girls to holistic social services for all. I will never cease to be inspired by the parents at our school who volunteer five weeks per year in exchange for their daughter’s free education. They believe, as I do, that with education, their daughter will not only improve her life, but she can change the lives in our community and beyond.
It’s also heartening that Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the world’s hotbeds of female entrepreneurial activity. In Uganda and Namibia, almost equal numbers of women and men are starting businesses. Leaders like James Mwangi of Equity Bank, alongside partners like the Mastercard Foundation, are making such commitments to continued and quality education real, proving change is possible.
Meanwhile, progress has been made in government, too. In fact, women are better represented in African legislatures than they are in many Western nations.
Source: CNN (link opens in a new window)