Please allow me space in your newspaper to publish this letter that was first published by The Indpendent in the UK concerning attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine. I was in Berlin a year after the wall came down and asked an East German journalist how it felt to young people to now be free. He replied: “It’s great – the problem is we don’t know how to use that freedom.”
My community of Marlborough has had a 32-year relationship with the Muslim community of Gunjur in The Gambia. In conversation with friends there since the events in Paris, they have said they are all appalled at the murders that took place, supposedly in the name of Islam.
At the same time, they are confused by the demands for the protection of freedom of speech when that speech is gratuitously offensive, not even humorous and is fundamentally about making money through the sale of a magazine. Hands up, those who do not think that with freedom comes responsibility.
Dr Nick Maurice
Founder,Gunjur Marlborough Link
African leaders must address youth unemployment
Please permit me space to express my opinion on the burning issue of youth unemployment not only in The Gambia but in the world as a whole. The best asset of any country are its young people who must be put to work to build a bright future.
There are 200 million people in Africa between 15 and 24 years of age. This represents about 20 percent of the population. According to the Population Research Bureau, Africa has the fastest growing and most youthful population in the world. Over 40 percent of its population is under 15.
Africa’s high fertility rate is responsible for this. This demographic finding portends challenges and opportunities. The challenges are economic and social; both are highly connected. As the population expands, jobs must be created. If these jobs are not enough, there will be many young people who are unemployed. According to the International Labor Organisation, 3 out of 5 unemployed people in Africa are young people.
The World Bank 2008 Report titled ‘Youth Employment in Africa: the potential, the problem and the promise’ notes that youth employment is more prevalent in urban areas. Worsening conditions in the rural areas lead to rural-urban migration. This compounds the unemployment challenge in the urban centres. This is clearly evident in many big cities in Africa including Lagos, Ibadan, Aba, Zaria, Accra, Darkar, and Johannesburg, just to mention a few.
Unemployed youth are therefore readily available for anti-social criminal activities that undermine the stability of society. An unstable society increases the risk of the market. This scares investors. Unemployed and underemployed youth are more exposed to conflicts and illegal activities-many of them fall prey to armed and rebel conflicts..
In West Africa, the unemployment rate is worrisome leading many young people to embark on risky illegal migration. It has consistently increased in the last few years. The situation is no different in the other countries listed in Africa as one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. In response to this challenge, regional and continental governments have met severally to discuss solutions to youth unemployment in Africa. On 18th February 2009 in Addis Ababa, African heads of state declared 2009-2019 as the decade of youth development in Africa. They resolved to advance youth development and ensure increased investments in youth development programmes at national levels.
The pronouncement of the vision 2016 development blue print is one that should be harnessed by all to create employment for the teeming number of young people .The many farms spread across the country should be used as model centres to train youths so that they can be able to earn a decent income to sustain their families.