13 February 2018

Ethiopia: Is Growing Youth Population Threat or Opportunity?


In Africa, the number of young generation is rapidly rising. Specifically, the case is similar in Ethiopia where more than 30 percent of the population is young people. Some experts consider the situation as opportunity for development while others see it as a threat to the economic and social well-being of a society. What are their justifications?

Dr. Werotaw Bezabih is senior trainer and owner of Genius Training and Consultancy P.L.C. He has been improving the lives of hundreds through equipping them with entrepreneurship skills for 12 years. He has also a passionate heart to encourage the young generation to be strong and visionary citizens. And he produced more than five books that encourage the young entrepreneurs.

While answering, "Is the rising of the number of the young people an opportunity or a threat for Ethiopia?" he said that having higher population of the young people is an advantage for the intended development. "Since they are considered to be the living resources of a nation, they are exceeding abundant blessings for their generation and the ones to follow if they are properly and carefully directed and cultivated."

He adds that like arrows in the hands of a warrior, the youths of the nation are strong assets to determine its well-being. "Some can be trained to be entrepreneurs while others are innovators that would play significant roles in reducing unemployment. High percentage of youths population enables the nation to have many engineers, doctors, economists, pilots and the like that are advancing the socioeconomic development of the nation."

Feyera Assefa is a Country Director of DSW, a global development organization that focuses on the needs and potential of the largest youth generation in history. He considers the youth as lasting and powerful potentials for sustainable development. "They are endowed with powerful potentials that ought to be cultivated to maximize their productivity in ensuring the intended development. And the nation has to invest in them with absolute diligence."

On the contrary, he said that, if not wisely directed, the high number of the youth can be a constraint for development if not managed carefully. "Provided that they are not handled properly, they would be obliged to leave their country in search of better work and living conditions. Thus, the situation can be a threat or an opportunity based on our approach in dealing with the youth."

Ethiopian Youth Federation Vice President Tsigereda Zewdu for her part says that since the youth are considered to be the resources of a nation, they ought not to be seen as a threat. The outcome of these productive forces is determined by the way the nations handle them. "I believe the power of the youth is analogous to the flaming arrow. It can either be destructive or productive depending on the manner we can manage. For instance, the flame is helpful in melting iron in furnace if properly managed but it would be destructive if we fail to use wisely. We can lay lasting foundation for sustainable development when we invest carefully in the youth.

"The developed world is struggling from lack of these productive forces while Africa is highly endowed with them. Thus, Africa should not consider them as a burden rather it has to cultivate and equip them for productivity." Tsigereda also says though the government has carried out valuable activities to address the youth so far, the tough tasks are ahead of it in order to effectively use the potential to accelerate the ongoing development.

Dr. Werotaw advises the parents and community members to undertake their responsibility in cultivating the character of their children so that they would be ethical and hard working citizens that cannot be burden to the nation. "If proper foundation is laid in early stages, the higher number of the young people cannot be a threat. Thus, the parents and schools should work together in producing skillful, knowledgeable and ethical citizens."

For Feyera , in order to use the potential of the youth and make them beneficiaries in the ongoing development, all the stakeholders must invest wisely in equipping them. To this end, he says , the Youth Federation, Ministry of Youth and Sports and other concerned bodies ought to work together.

Tsigereda also notes that the government has to focus on initiating on the holistic development of the youth; its ultimate goal should not just be only the economic aspect rather it has to work to produce morally and ethically strong citizens. " We must also aware the youth to realize the ample opportunities the ongoing development has brought so that they can make use of all the available advantages. Moreover, we have to engage them in the ongoing development realizing that they have bright future. In investing in the youth in such a manner, we can make the situation very helpful opportunity."

The experts have justified that the rising of the young population can be advantageous when their potential is carefully directed; but the result would be the opposite if it is left for chance.


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