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According to the US Census Bureau (International Data Base), there were approximately 241 million people aged 15 to 29 living in Africa in 2010, representing approximately 28% of the overall population of the continent.[1] In 2010, 63% of Africa’s overall population was below the age of 25.

Slow and deteriorating progress in meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in most African countries, combined with the devastating impacts of HIV/AIDS and conflict, have created a crisis of staggering scale affecting young people in Africa.

Some facts and figures about children and young people in Africa are revealing. The children and youth population of Africa continues to grow rapidly. Africa has the highest rates of child mortality (1 in 6) and malnutrition (36%) in the world in children up to 5 years of age. Africa has the worst schooling outcomes in the world (51% out of school) in the age group from 6 to 14 years.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 3 in 5 of the total unemployed are youth (ILO 2006) and on average 72% of the youth population live with less than $2 a day.

There are 34 million orphans due to HIV/AIDS pandemic, conflict, and disease, and growing rapidly. By 2010, 15 to 25% of all children in 12 countries of Africa are expected to be orphans. The macro- and microeconomic impact of this snapshot is considerable. It is estimated that the impact of HIV/AIDS alone on annual growth rates is now at minus 2.0% of GDP, and that household savings in families fostering orphans is reduced by 33% (Uganda).[2] There is increasing awareness of the fact that the situation of youth is crucial for the overall development prospects of the continent.