Report : The Youth of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). How do they see themselves, their country, and the prospects for their agency?

The Youth of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). How do they see themselves, their country, and the prospects for their agency?

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. 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, and a source of instability, 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 (hopefully) 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 slide in democracy have become increasingly important. The so-called Third Wave of democracy is generally in recession, and in Africa as well: only eight of the fifty-four countries were reckoned to be Free by Freedom House in 2021, whilst 22 were Partly Free and 24 Not Free. Interestingly, five of the eight Free countries – Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, and South Africa – were SADC countries.

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