Youth and the role this crucial constituency can play in Africa's future has been one of the central themes at the World Economic Forum on Africa taking place in Durban this week.
And on Thursday, American actor Forest Whitaker, who is also a Unesco special envoy for Peace as well as a social activist who established the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, said that in conflict-plagued South Sudan, 72 percent of the population was under the age of 30.
Speaking during a session titled "Eye on Fragile States", Whitaker said that this demographic meant that youth was the core of the country and the only ones who could rebuild it. "In these fragile times they lose the skill sets to be able to do so and we have to supply as much as we can and then you will find that they are going to do a lot of things and create a lot of things to move the nation forward."
Victor Ochen, executive director of the African Youth Initiative Network in Uganda, agreed that for radical change the youth was needed and that what the continent was lacking at a governance level was integrity. "We are lacking integrity in power, integrity of position, integrity of action and we are not accountable for our own systems and our own people and it has made it difficult for people to get the trust that is needed."
He said that the younger generation should be allowed to present their ideas to the nation and not to come and confront or fight. "Young people are not assets for war, they are tools for peace," Ochen added.