Why Securing Youth Land Rights Matter for Agriculture-Led Growth in Africa

Why Securing Youth Land Rights Matter for Agriculture-Led Growth in Africa


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.

The COVID-19 crisis only heightens the urgency. The International Labor Organization warns that the pandemic could result in a “lockdown generation”—millions of young people who are experiencing the social and economic consequences of the pandemic and who are not working, attending school, or engaging in vocational training.

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..

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