The survey was conducted in an effort to develop the foundation for a better global understanding of the youth. The survey included 4,200 young African men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 from 14 sub-Saharan countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana and Ethiopia.
The survey revealed unemployment and corruption were considered the top issues facing the nation, according to the youth.
Fifty percent of the South African participants had a negative outlook on the future of the country, while the other half felt their communities were headed in the right direction. Thirty percent of all respondents believed Africa was on the right track.
However, the survey found that the youth were more optimistic about their own futures, with 73% believing their standard of living was destined to improve over the next two years.
About 47% preferred the democratic system currently in place, whereas 49% preferred traditional African regimes where citizens have little opportunity to hold politicians accountable.
Only 12% showed an interest in being elected into public office, while 16% showed an interest in participating in political demonstrations.
Thirty-one percent of survey participants felt that well-paid jobs would need to be addressed in the next five years. Thirty percent indicated that access to basic services was one of the top policies that needed to be addressed.
In terms of the top two issues facing the country, 23% responded unemployment and 14% responded corruption.
Just 47% of the youth said they intended to start their own businesses in the next five years.
Chairman of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, Ivor Ichikowitz, said: “While today we celebrate Youth Day, we must recognise and reflect upon the fact that our young peoples’ faith in democracy is being tested like never before.
“This country’s first generation born into freedom, many growing up with high hopes in the power of the democratic process, have for years seen their priorities ignored and are thus disillusioned.”
He said that the concerns of the youth should be an eye-opener for the government.
“The youth’s key concerns of unemployment and corruption, together with disappointing levels of entrepreneurship, is a wake-up call for the government and the private sector to expedite efforts to generate more job opportunities.
“As the country is struggling to revive the economy during the Covid-19 crisis, the task ahead is very daunting and will require decisive leadership from all sectors of our society. We have much work to do if we are to stand a very real chance of making the dream of the African century a reality for our people,” Ichikowitz said.
Of survey respondents from the 13 other participating countries, 84% believed South Africa was having a positive influence on the rest of the continent.
While 64% of South African participants revealed that South Africa needed to do more to protect the LGBTQ+ community, 69% of participants from other countries believed the LGBTQ+ community did not need more protection.
Other key issues addressed in the survey saw the youth of South Africa agreeing that:
- Sexual harassment is a problem – 91%
- Ethnic minorities’ rights need to be protected – 88%
- South Africa belongs to all who live in it – 70%
- Everyone has the right to freedom of religion, thought, belief and conscience – 91%
- South Africa is a non-racial and non-sexist society – 47%
- Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law – 56%
- Religious institution are too powerful – 71%
- The school system is preparing pupils for the future – 67%
- Land expropriation without compensation will only worsen the lives of South Africans – 81%
Seventy-three percent were concerned about the illegal poaching of animals.
Fifty-nine percent believed refugees should be sent home as they have a negative impact on the country.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic has grasped our society, we bear witness to an unsurprising South African resiliency and determination to weather its storm.
“With accountable leadership, proper investment in job creation and by providing the opportunity for our entrepreneurial prowess to flourish on the home front, we can embolden the ambitions of our young people from all walks of life, and motivate our next generation to be the future flag bearers for a democracy presently under challenge,” Ichikowitz added.
-ANA; Editing by Yaron Blecher