Trade Briefs

Achieving the SDGs – where does Africa’s youth fit in?

Achieving the SDGs – where does Africa’s youth fit in?

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19 Dec 2019

Author(s): George Chikondi Lwanda

The outcome document of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) recognises young people as a group left behind. The principle of leaving no one behind, a key principle of the SDGs, therefore obliges a focus on young people, among other groups. When young people are engaged in their societies, economies and politics they are not only more productive, they also contribute to stability and development in their communities and countries.

One of the means of analysing youth engagement is by looking at youth unemployment trends. The importance of dealing with youth unemployment for sustainable development is emphasised by the fact that substantially reducing the proportion of idle youth by 2020 is one of the SDG indicators under SDG 8 (‘promote sustained inclusive and sustainable growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’).

High rates of idle youth, otherwise known as ‘youth Not in Education, Employment and Training’ (NEET), have been linked to political instability in Africa and have been used to explain the Arab Spring revolution nearly a decade ago. NEETs are economically idle, and they are not gaining any skills or work experience. This often leads to them being socially excluded and predisposes them to leading potentially violent public protests.

Logic argues that whether this happens naturally depends on the extent to which idle youth are willing to participate in public demonstrations. Using Afrobarometer survey data of 12 countries over the last half generation (2005 to 2016), this paper analyses youth-labour and time-use trends between 2005 and 2016; as well as the trends in the willingness of idle youth to participate in public protests. This, in turn, is used to determine countries that are likely to experience ‘NEET led’ public protests.


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