Africa’s future rests in the hands of its youth and efforts must be made to ensure they thrive, Bill Gates, the philanthropist and entrepreneur, said in South Africa recently. Delivering the 2016 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at the University of Pretoria (Mamelodi campus), Gates said he was optimistic about the future of the continent because of its young people.
He said Africa was demographically the world’s youngest continent and in the next 35 years, it is estimated that two billion babies would be born in Africa and by 2050; 40% of the world’s children would live in Africa hence the belief that Africa’s youth “can be the source of a special dynamism”.
Gates used the platform of the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture – the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s flagship programme to honour its founder, Nelson Mandela, and to raise topical issues affecting South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world to lay out his vision of how to create a better world.
The co-founder of software giant, Microsoft, said issues that needed to be tackled to ensure Africa’s youth thrived were health and nutrition, education; productivity and economic opportunity and governance He said health and nutrition were a top priority because “when people aren’t healthy, they can’t turn their attention to other priorities. But when health improves, life improves by every measure”.
Gates recalled Nelson Mandela who said, ‘Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.’ But our duty is not merely to arouse; our duty is to invest in young people, to put in place the basic building blocks so that they can build the future and “our duty is to do it now, because the innovations of tomorrow depend on the opportunities available to children today.”
Other speakers of the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture includes, Bill Clinton, Former US President – 2003, Archbishop Desmond Tutu -2004, Former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa – 2006, Former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan – 2007, Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf 2008 and Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson -2012.