Dividend or Disaster? The Youth bulge in SADC
All the demographic models show that Africa has the fastest-growing population in the world, moving from the current total population in sub-Saharan African countries of 1.1 billion in 2020 projected to climb to 2.5 billion by 2050. The population under 35 represents almost a billion people (540.8 million 0-14-year-olds, and 454.5 million 15-34-year-olds). This large “youth bulge” can be a decided developmental advantage as it has been for many countries in the past (and for China currently), but it may also be a disadvantage as was argued by Samuel Huntington several decades ago (Huntington 1996). There is therefore considerable interest in studying the young in Africa, their attitudes, behaviours, and their engagement with the societies in which they live. In a relatively short time, African countries have shifted from traditional, formerly colonially controlled societies to countries trying to implement democracy and develop economically. In a continent that has been dominated by autocracies and one-party states, the views of the young in the more recent moves towards democracies have become increasingly important (Reeler 2021).