Big Story: Politics, internet access key concerns among young people in Africa-report

Half of the young people in Africa feel excluded from political decision making. This is according to a latest U-report polling data released jointly by UNICEF, African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU).

While an overwhelming majority of the polled young people at 91% would like to have more say in the political decisions that shape their lives, 48% feel completely left out. The main obstacle they cite at 59% is the lack of access to policymakers.

The report dubbed Your Voice Your Future that brought together results and recommendations from four U- Report polls across Africa and Europe also found participation in decision making, quality education and internet access among the main concerns for children and young people both in Africa and Europe.

U -report polls are a free SMS-based platform that allows people to report on issues affecting them and their communities as well as to get real-time information and feedback on new initiatives or campaigns. In these particular polls considered in the report, 450,000 young people between 14 and 35 years old voiced their views on key topics that affect their future and are relevant to the partnership between Africa and Europe. 

“Young people have a rightful seat at the decision-making table. They are the agents of change who with us build today a better tomorrow. We need to hear from them, but that is not all we must do. We must engage and empower youth to be involved in decisions affecting their lives,” said Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships when commenting about the report. 

However while the report shows that young people feel left out in traditional politics, 88% revealed finding alternative ways in engaging and mobilizing their peers whereby some 65% of respondents say they are active within a youth network or organization in their community. 

With the #YourVoiceYourFuture campaign and the four U-Report polls according to a statement released this morning, the European Union and the African Union joined forces to explore new ways to engage with young people, to inform policy making, create interest around youth issues, and bring young people and decision-makers closer together on both continents.

 The results of the campaign they say will inform the agenda of the Africa-Europe Youth Summit 2021 and will feed into the next AU-EU Summit of Heads of States and Governments. 

The report included recommendations on the topics of climate change and the green transition; digital transformation and social infrastructure; education, skills and decent jobs, and; governance, peace and security.

Other main findings in the report were that 43% of the respondents felt there is inadequate funding for education whereas 75% revealed facing barriers accessing the internet with the majority citing the limiting factor to be the high cost of data. 40% attributed access problems to lack of access to electricity whereas 29% can’t afford internet devices. 

When it comes to issues to do with climate change, young people at 48% observed that climate change had reduced food production in their communities.

Majority of the young people cited raising awareness as the most important action to fight climate change and reduce damage to the environment. These were 43% of the respondents. 15% cited to recycling waste as a remedy whereas another 15% recommended reducing

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