Assisting needy youth

The number of youth in Malawi is growing rapidly, presenting both opportunities and risks. 50 percent of the population in the region are under 25 years of age (World Bank 2014). By 2050, Africa will have 362 million people aged between 15 and 24 (World Bank 2014). This rapid increase contrasts starkly with the Middle East and North Africa, where increases in the size of this cohort have steadied, and even with East Asia, where numbers are dominated by China and the size of this cohort is expected to fall from 350 million in 2010 to 225 million by 2050 (World Bank 2014). With the right policies and programs in place, a young population offers tremendous opportunities for a “demographic dividend”. Yet, over the next 10 years, only one in four of Africa’s youth are expected to find a wage job at best (World Bank 2014). This lack of opportunities not only threatens the realization of the demographic dividend. At its worst, it can contribute to radicalization and violence. A study in Kenya, for instance, suggested that 57 percent of al-Shabaab respondents joined the group when they were below 24 years (Botha 2014).

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