- Health and management of the economy are the most important problems that Gambian youth (aged 18-35 years) want their government to address. They are more likely than their elders to prioritise education and infrastructure/roads, but not unemployment.
- On average, Gambian youth have more education than their elders. Almost six in 10 young Gambians (58%) have secondary or post-secondary schooling, compared to about half as many in the 36-55 (32%) and over-55 (28%) age groups.
- But they are also more likely to be unemployed: A quarter (25%) of young Gambians are looking for a job, compared to 21% of middle-aged and 16% of older citizens.
- Only a minority of young Gambians say the government is doing a good job of meeting the needs of youth (22%) and addressing their priorities for government action.
- Almost six in 10 Gambians (57%) say they would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund programs to help the youth.
- If the government could increase its spending to help young people, job creation (cited by 46% of respondents) would be Gambians’ highest priority for additional investment.
- A majority of Gambians say that in order for the country to do well, we should listen to the wisdom of our elders (53%) rather than to fresh ideas from young people (36%). This view is shared widely across all age brackets – even among young adults (51%).
- Young Gambians are less likely than their elders to engage in political and civic activities, including voting, contacting leaders, attending community meetings, and joining others to raise an issue.
The Gambia is a youthful country. Almost 60% of its 2.2 million people are under the age of 25 (Index Mundi, 2021), and 18- to 35-year-olds make up 58% of its registered voters (Taylor, 2021).
Does the government prioritise the needs of young people?
Gambian youth face particular challenges in a struggling economy with high unemployment (DW, 2021). The Global Youth Development Index ranks the Gambia 139th out of 181 countries on its efforts
The quest to address these challenges is captured in the vision of the country’s National Youth Policy, which seeks to “empower and render the Gambian youth capable and willing to make well-informed, sustainable and meaningful life choices” through education, youth development investment, and initiatives to confront the country’s long tradition of emigration (Ministry of Youth and Sports, 2019).
Projects by national and international agencies target specific issues pertaining to the youth. For instance, the Gambia Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) was established in January 2017 to address the issue of emigration by improving the skills and employability of potential and returning migrants (National Youth Council, 2017).
Afrobarometer survey findings show that Gambian youth have more education than their elders but are also more likely to be unemployed. Health and management of the economy top the list of the most important problems that young Gambians want their government to address. Among Gambian adults of all ages, a majority are willing to pay higher taxes to fund programs to help young people, with job creation as the top priority for additional government investment. Though dominant in numbers, Gambia’s youth are less likely than their elders to participate in change-making activities such as voting and civic engagement.