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Sub-Saharan African youth prioritize financial and professional success over personal happiness

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Youth Talks, an initiative of the Higher Education for Good Foundation, has unveiled insightful data in a global report compiled from over 45,000 participants aged between 15 – 29, spanning 212 countries and territories. As the first edition of the report from its consultation, the world’s largest open youth consultation, it is an unprecedented data collection revealing the desires and needs of youth globally, answering the questions of what they need to help them find meaning in life, live more harmoniously, and thus together try and meet the challenges of our time.

Youth Talks uses state-of-the-art A.I. technology to analyze responses, enabling contributors to answer open-ended questions and distilling 1 million uncensored contributions into rich, comprehensible and actionable insights. It reveals an extraordinary diversity of themes, ideas, nuances, and points of view, illustrating the dynamism and diversity of today’s youth. Results from the consultation also unveiled important insights and opinions about Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa from its youth.

“The massive involvement of African youth in the consultation as participants and ambassadors demonstrates their strong desire to express themselves and actively participate in international decision-making. This highlights the importance of giving the younger generation from this region a platform to voice their opinions and contribute to solving the issues they face. By doing so, we can ensure that their unique perspectives are considered when shaping policies and initiatives that impact their future and the world at large”, said Marine Hadengue, Director of Youth Talks.

The number one contribution from Nigerian participants focused on the paradox of individualism (mentioned by 21% of participants), with respondents stressing the need to love one another and criticizing selfishness in society. Other issues highlighted by Nigerian respondents included the stagnation of the educational system (16%), political issues such as corruption and nepotism (12%), discrimination and inequalities (11%), and the lack of young people empowerment (9%).

The results also showcased significant differences between youths in Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world, whereby Sub-Saharan African youths were more interested in concepts such as a search for purpose, achievement, and personal development, rather than success, happiness, and financial situation. In terms of what they prioritized for the future, personal happiness ranked seventh, behind financial and professional matters.

In addition, the report also revealed that Sub-Saharan African youth are particularly concerned with the environment (24%), wars and conflicts (20%), and the economy (11%). Their thoughts about the future are haunted by the spectres of poverty, social inequalities, and a dearth of job opportunities. Around 10% of participants in the region expressed their concerns about human behaviour in general, as they worry about an increase in human cruelty and a lack of humanity.

“Seventy-six per cent of the leaders of tomorrow – today’s youth – think that the older generations either don’t know or are deliberately ignoring their vital interest,” said Marine Hadengue, Director of Youth Talks. “The younger generations are the future of humanity. They are the people who will initiate the greatest changes in a world turned upside down by our past actions. The priority of leaders today should be on ensuring that this generation can express themselves freely, without imposing on them the thoughts or paradigms of another era. Youth Talks was created precisely to address this challenge. We are evolving in our mission from giving youth a platform to raise their issues, to giving them a seat at the table. By doing so, we hope to empower the youth to not only raise their voices on the issues that matter but also to contribute to solving them.”

The initiative was established with the hope that leaders in every part of the world will take note, and draw on these insights as they make decisions affecting the future. Perspectives gathered covered a range of issues including climate change, poverty, inequality, economic issues, racism and discrimination, and education amongst others. They are important for key stakeholders such as governments, educational institutions, youth organizations, businesses, and the general public, who are working to build a more sustainable future as they are a valuable resource that must be fully incorporated into major decision-making processes and actions of our time.

Youth Talks is an opportunity to gain insights into the priorities and concerns of the next generation. As a unique platform harnessing state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, its report will bring the voices of the world’s youth to the attention of organizations and individuals who shape societies globally. It is a global tool for change as an important conduit between what young people want and actionable societal change. The consultation by Youth Talks was carried out between October 2022 through May 2023 and provides a rich snapshot of the aspirations, hopes, and beliefs of young people around the world. The results of the consultation are available here: https://youth-talks.org/results/

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