Through OAYouth, young people have a neutral platform to work together towards the common national and African Agenda. In 2009 OAYouth became the first of its kind member-based continental youth movement that is not affiliated to political parties and controlled through governments. The organisation is a platform where youth represent themselves.
According to the African Union (AU), 65% of the total population of Africa is below the age of 35 years, and over 35% are between the ages of 15 and 35 years - making Africa the most youthful continent. Although more than half of Africa’s population comprises youth, most of them live in extreme poverty – 60.7 million young people live on less than US $1 a day.
United Nations concludes that low levels of education, limited skill sets and restricted opportunities exclude young people from gaining productive work.
Without opportunities for decent work, disaffected youth are more easily enticed to participate in disruptive behaviours, such as drug abuse, civil unrest and violence; including armed conflicts and other forms of criminal activities.
Youth remain at the periphery of decision making processes, whilst they are dealt a bad hand with Africa’s major problems. HIV/AIDS is spreading amongst them; teenage pregnancy, school dropouts, prostitution and crime are all reducing their productivity.
Evidently, if youth do not speak and act for themselves, no one else will.
The problem of youth employment is even more complex in Africa than any other part of the world. Slow-growing economies have been unable to generate enough job opportunities to absorb the large number of young people graduating every year. While African countries have generated strong bi-lateral relations with big economies such as China and USA, the cheap processed and agricultural imports have stifled manufacturing and reducing employment. Youth need to build new enterprises to grow and provide jobs, supported by entrepreneurship skilling.
Home grown solutions to local problems
OAYouth projects are executed by youth in local and regional areas according to the needs of the communities in question and availability of resources. Solutions to local challenges come from local youth themselves.
The projects are implemented in partnership with other organisations, companies, institutes and under the supervision of qualified personnel. OAYouth organises meetings, trainings, workshops, conferences, cultural drama, broadcasting radio programs and debates; sharing with the young thought leaders and other stakeholders.
Overall, local young people are key drivers, beneficiaries and participants to these projects.