Urban Youth in Africa


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

Author: Marc Sommers


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

Year: 2010

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.