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🗞 Young Africa on the rise

Africa is a continent of young people. Nearly half of all Africans are under 16.

Just imagine – there are as many kids as there are adults in Africa. In Europe, there are about five grown-ups for every kid.

Do you think your life would be better if there were fewer adults about?

In rich places like Europe and North America, people often talk about Africans as poor. You might think of pictures of people living in simple huts, of wild animals like lions or giraffes.

But Africa is changing fast, although people still have a lot less money than in other continents. The Financial Times wrote this month about the lives of young Africans.

The fact that the “FT”, whose readers are mostly people who do international business, ran such an article shows how people elsewhere are starting to pay attention to Africa’s new generation. And the article shows that Africans may not stay very poor for much longer.

The newspaper’s journalist, David Pilling, went to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, a country in eastern Africa that is about the size of Great Britain. David spoke to three 19-year-olds – Stanley, Daphine and Janapher – about their lives.

He found them full of hope.

See how Africa’s population is booming and will continue to grow, while its richer neighbour Europe hasn’t changed much for ages. Better medicine has helped and it means that the average age in Africa is just 19 – compared to about 40 in Europe.

Stanley (that’s him in the photo above) came to the city as a baby to escape a war. He and his brothers and sisters lived on the streets, collecting scrap metal to earn a little money and killing birds with catapults to eat. “It was hustle, hustle, hustle,” Stanley told the FT about his struggle to stay alive.

But Stanley later went to school. Most children in Uganda get to school today, a big change from when Stanley’s mother was little. Stanley found a talent for speaking in public and now has his own radio show. Pretty cool, no?

Stanley (on the left) does an interview for his radio show.

Much better medicine is also saving more African children and helping Africa’s population grow fast. When your parents were born – not so long ago! – there were many more people in Europe than lived in Africa. But today, there are twice as many Africans as Europeans and their population is still growing much faster than in the rest of the world.

That worries some people, especially in Europe, who think more Africans will try to move to Europe to find work. But, in fact, many Africans are confident they can live well at home.

Most Africans now live in towns, not in isolated farming villages, and new technologies, using the Internet and smartphones, are giving Africans, like everybody else, new opportunities.

Check out a day in the life of Okello Preska, a girl who lives in the countryside in Uganda. She is poor and has to work to help her family. But she also goes to school.

Since Stanley, Daphine and Janapher were born, an average Ugandan has got two and half times richer. That “economic growth”, as we call it, is about 250 percent and is more than twice what most Europeans have seen in the last 19 years. Africa is catching up!

David from the FT saw lots of solar panels on roofs, even in villages in the countryside, providing cheap electricity to run phones and computers. And Daphine and Janapher say they are inspired by what they see on the Internet of how women and men can make their lives better through hard work.

Janapher, a student, told the FT: “We have more opportunity than our parents.”

Take a look at this cool map, which shows how you can fit all of China, India, the United States and much of Europe into the same space as Africa. That’s something we often don’t realise because of the way that our flat maps of the world don’t give a true picture of our round planet.
This video from the Swedish professor Hans Rosling shows how the world’s people have become richer and healthier – and how Africa has been catching up. It is a few years old, so the picture looks even better today.

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