Are young people truly in a "waiting period"? As they turn into liabilities only when not recognised as assets, and become problems to solve only when not seen as solutions, does the youth realise that they matter now more than ever?
The problem with youth representation in governance is not just generational but also ideational, as the reality of weak institutions has a prevalence on the question of age. They are no longer driven by idealism but rather by materialism and opportunism. How can these youth be the agents of change when themselves require to be changed? In the following lines, factors favoring youth involvement in civil society in the region will be presented, whilst emphasising solutions by sector, notably through the academia, the private sector, the government and most importantly, the civil society itself.
Ultimately, innovation will be discussed as a tool to leverage in the political arena. It is noteworthy to stress that West Africa's large youth population can either spur innovation, creativity, and enterprise – or fuel instability and violence, as they face poverty, barriers to education, multiple forms of discrimination and limited employment prospects and opportunities. How policies, structures and processes are implemented in this regard will determine the prospects for current and future generations and economies.