Melinda and Bill Gates, the world’s richest couple and leading philanthropists say young Africans will shape the future of not only their own communities but the entire world. 

In their authoritative Annual Letter 2019 ( they say the world keeps getting older, but Africa stays (nearly) the same age. The median age of 18.

If there is one lesson that young people could take from the letter it is this: be surprised, be outraged, then take action.


Following are 10 things that surprise Melinda and Bill about the world today:

Young Africans will shape the future of not only their own communities but the entire world. The future depends on young people’s access to high-quality health and education services. Health and education are the twin engines of economic growth.

At-home DNA tests can find serial killers—and could also help prevent premature births.

We will build an entire New York City every month. As the urban population continues to grow in the coming decades, the world’s building stock is expected to double by 2060—the equivalent of adding another New York City monthly between now and then. That’s a lot of cement and steel. We need to find a way to make it all without worsening climate change.

The larger point is that if we’re going to solve climate change, we need to get to near-zero emissions on all the things that drive it—agriculture, electricity, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings. I call these five areas the grand challenges in climate change.

Data can be sexist. Crucial data on women and children is missing. This discrepancy makes it harder to make the world a better place.

You can learn a lot about processing your anger from teenage boys. A growing body of research suggests that interventions that work with young people to improve their impulse control may help them more safely navigate volatile situations—keeping them in school and out of trouble.


Live and let live. There is nothing about putting one’s country first that requires turning your back on the rest of the world. If anything, the opposite is true.

Design for the toilet had not changed for centuries. More than 2 billion people around the world lack access to a decent toilet. Their waste often ends up in the environment, untreated, killing nearly 800 children every day.

Textbooks are becoming obsolete. Thanks to technology the standalone textbook is becoming a thing of the past.

Mobile phones are most powerful in the hands of the poorest women.

Read full letter and share your thoughts with Melinda and Bill at