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THE STATE OF EAST AFRICA REPORT SERIES

Who are They?

Being Young in East Africa

In East Africa a person leaves childhood and becomes a youth earliest in Uganda (12 years) and latest in Kenya (18 years). The ‘oldest youth’ are to be found in Rwanda and Tanzania. The transition between childhood and adulthood is longest (22 years) in Rwanda and shortest in Burundi (12 years).

Table 3. Defining ‘youth’ in East Africa

 

Defining Institution or Country

Youth Age range

Remarks

UN General Assembly

15-24

World Health Organization (WHO)

10-19

Youngest & narrowest age range (10 years)

Commonwealth

15-29

African Union

15-35

Burundi

15-26

Kenya (Constitution)

18-34

Shortest transition (16 years)

Rwanda (National Youth Policy)

14-35

Longest transition (22 years)

Tanzania (National Youth Development Policy 2007)

15-35

Uganda (National Youth Policy 2001)

12-30

Youngest lower age limit

The overwhelming majority of East Africans are young

That East African countries are populated overwhelmingly by children adolescents and young adults is visible to the naked eye. The data clarifies this in interesting ways. First, the median age in East
Africa – the age that divides the population exactly into two equal halves above and below it -ranges from a low of 15 years in Uganda to a high of 19 years in Kenya and Rwanda.

Secondly, about 20 per cent of all East Africans are aged 15 to 24 years, meaning they are in school,college, or at the start of their working lives. Overall, between 62 per cent (in Kenya and Rwanda)and 70 per cent (Uganda) of east Africans are younger than 25 years of age. Their attitudes and aspirations will have a major effect on how the region evolves over the next few decades.

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