"Too young to matter? How the youth will shape Africa’s future"

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm

"Too young to matter? How the youth will shape Africa’s future"
The Royal African Society Annual Lecture 2017 delivered by Professor Carlos Lopes

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Date & Time: Tuesday 17th October 2017, 18:00 - 20:30
Venue: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre and Suite, SOAS, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG

Speaker: Professor Carlos Lopes, development economist and former head of UNECA - UN Economic Commission for Africa.

Chaired by Amina Yuguda, journalist and winner of the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award.

Welcome by Zeinab Badawi, Chair of the Royal African Society.

Africa’s youth population will almost double from 230 million to 452 million between 2015 and 2050. For many years, observers have highlighted that Africa’s demographic dividend outpaces the job opportunities available to them. The average age of Africa’s population is 19; the average age of the leaders on the continent is 65, and with an average voting age of 18, this begs the question: why do Africa’s youth continue to vote for old men?

This year marks a flurry of progressive initiatives around the topic of youth empowerment. The African Union set the theme for 2017 as ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth’ with a number of conferences in the hope of catalysing policies and industrial strategies that will transform Africa’s large youth population into a development asset. In July, the Nigerian Senate passed #NotTooYoungtoRun bill enabling young Nigerians to contest for political positions as Governors, Senators or Presidential candidates in their 30s. Kenya’s August elections saw more young people vying for office in local-level campaigns. Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, has recently called on young people to rise up and take leadership positions.

But is there need for a prioritisation of political rights over socio-economic ones? There seems to be a divergence between rhetoric and reality of youth ‘empowerment’ as opposed to youth development in Africa. Without access to better quality education, better healthcare, or employment, how will Africa’s youth effectively shape its future? How do young people on the continent navigate the generational hierarchies that are so firmly embedded?

Join us for a conversation on these topics with Professor Carlos Lopes, the guest speaker of the RAS 2017 Annual Lecture.



Carlos Lopes is Professor of Economics at the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice, University of Cape Town, and Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. He has led several United Nations institutions, most recently the Economic Commission for Africa from 2012 to 2016. He was born and raised in Guinea Bissau, where he grew up in the midst of the liberation struggle, mobilised by the ideals of pan-Africanism. His academic studies took him to Geneva and later to Paris, where he completed a PhD in history at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Driven by an interest in Africa and African development issues, he has gained a wealth of academic research and teaching experience in the fields of development and strategic planning, has authored or edited more than 20 books and taught at academic institutions in Lisbon, Coimbra, Zurich, Uppsala, Mexico, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. He serves on a number of boards, including the Foundation Board of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and is a member of the Global Commission for the Economy and Climate and the Global Commission for the Future of Work. He was recently appointed as a member of the African Union reform team led by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
Amina Yuguda received a B.SC. from the Ahmadu Bello University in Mass Communication and an MA from MAUTECH’s Information technology department (ESP). She was honoured by the BBC world service with the prestigious Komla Dumor Award for African Journalism for the year 2017. While studying at MAUTECH she worked on linguistic applications for journalism. She majored in Discourse Analysis. Amina has worked as a broadcast journalist with Nigeria’s TV Gotel for the past five years. Her documentary series “The Real Africa” tells stories about Adamawa’s rich cultural heritage and African traditions. She is passionate about girls education and mentors young girls in her hometown, Yola in Northeast Nigeria.

We invite guests to attend a wine reception in the Brunei Suite before the lecture (included in the ticket price).


Tickets: £16 / £8 / Free for RAS Members, SOAS Staff & Students. Please reserve your ticket on Eventbrite