Urban Youth in Africa

Citation:

Sommers, Marc. 2010. “Urban Youth in Africa.” Environment and Urbanization 22 (2): 317–32.

Author: Marc Sommers

Abstract:

It is widely assumed that most Africans reside in rural areas, that African cities make little economic sense and are unusually violent because so many unemployed young men live there, and that urban migrant youth can be drawn back to their former rural homes. This paper challenges all of these assumptions. In the process, it reviews dominant trends in Africa’s rapid urban expansion and examines what life is like for urban youth. I will argue that African cities are underserved and fiercely competitive economic environments that are negatively impacted by neoliberal development policies. Urban youth life tends to take place in worlds that are largely separate from the rest of society. The pressures and dangers facing male and female youth can be extreme, yet at the same time African cities are exceptionally stimulating places that provide opportunities for re-invention for many urban youth. The paper ends with recommendations for addressing the needs of the marginalized majority of Africa’s urban youth more effectively. Its primary focus is urban areas in the region of sub-Saharan Africa.

Keywords: africa, conflict, employment, exclusion, gender, neoliberal, urban, youth

Topics: Development, Displacement & Migration, Migration, Urban Displacement, Economies, Gender, Girls, Boys, Violence Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa

Year: 2010

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