Africa’s “youth bulge” represents both an enormous challenge and a tantalizing opportunity for the continent. With over 60 percent of Africans under the age of 35, governments are under increasing pressure to grasp the “demographic dividend” youth represent to boost agricultural productivity, enhance food security, and expand economic opportunities for young men and women. Each year, about 10-12 million young Africans aged 15-24 enter the labor market, but only 3.1 million formal wage jobs are generated, pushing millions of youth into low paying and precarious informal employment.
A foundational piece of Africa’s rural and agricultural transformation must be ensuring that youth have secure land rights on which to stake their future and invest in agriculture and farm-related productive activities. If properly harnessed, Africa’s nearly 420 million youth—including more than 200 million who reside in rural areas—will be the continent’s greatest asset and its engine to grow agricultural productivity and food security while reducing poverty.
Access to land is both a critical component and a fundamental barrier to productive youth engagement in agriculture. In fact, research shows that landlessness and lack of economic opportunities are important drivers of youth migration and farming career decisions in both land-scarce and land-abundant countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Continue reading →