Youth and capability development: Domain report

Working Paper 17

Olha Homonchuk, Elizabeth Dessie, Nicola Banks, Katja Starc Card, Susan Nicolai, Nansozi K Muwanga, Imrana Buba, Zainab Hassan, Haja R Wurie and Eyob Balcha Gebremariam 

July 2024


Young people are indispensable in the pursuit of inclusive urban development in African cities. By 2050, over half of Africa’s population will be under the age of 25. As such, young people will play a game-changing role in the development outcomes across Africa’s cities and are often regarded as the “makers or breakers” of the future of the continent. The ACRC youth and capability development research uncovers prevalent systemic barriers hindering young people in African cities from fulfilling their potential, particularly within social welfare systems and politics.

Drawing on insights from five cities (Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Freetown in Sierra Leone, Kampala in Uganda, Maiduguri in Nigeria and Mogadishu in Somalia), our findings show that the key social systems provide limited support to young people transitioning into adulthood, yielding the need for reform. In particular, young people have emphasised the significance of quality education, vocational skills training programmes, financial services, health services and avenues for political participation. Overall, youth have high stakes but low power in the political sphere, undermining their ability to influence and improve the core social systems affecting their livelihoods. The paper outlines key policy recommendations that emerged from this research.


Political economy, cities, youth, education, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Somalia