Synergy –

The interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements.

I kind of love that definition. Because it symbolizes in one word – what it means to be human. Man and wife – synergize to become parents to children. Friends synergize to create groups. Groups synergize to become a community. Communities synergize to solve local problems. Societies synergize to create cultural expressions. Countries synergize to create globalization. And finally, globalization allows me to have Ethiopian food in Switzerland.

So at the end of it all, it is really about me finding some Ethiopian food in a far off place.

Not really. It is about the word synergy and what it can mean for young people and their future. It is about what it means for young Africans. Young Ethiopians.

It is estimated that over 60 million people are younger than 30 in Ethiopia. Just take a minute and think about what that means. It means that the entire population of France or Britain is younger than 30 in Africa’s second most populated country. That also means that in a few years’ time, these people will be working people. Or at least looking for work. They will be looking for love and be fusing it through partnerships and child rearing. They will begin their own families. So their priorities will always look to the future. Their own future well-being and that of their kids eventually. So good jobs and good future prospects matter. In fact, these are imperative. The question is can both their expectations of a prosperous future, match the reality of the Ethiopian Economy. Will the private sector be large enough to absorb all these people? Can the economy grow and remain robust to create a space for jobs and opportunity? These questions point out that the young population is either a time bomb or an opportunity for an inclusive & innovative future.

And that is the key. An inclusive future means one in which partnerships are forged and made. An innovative future is one in which ideas and experiences are shared. Basically, it is a future in which synergy is absolutely vital. It is a future in which synergies between youth need to be harnessed and enabled.

You see young people are better placed than ever, through education, social media, and the internet – to apply the little resources that they have, to the issues that they face. I see young Ethiopians already becoming world class poets, photographers, and thinkers. That maybe more in urban areas. However, even in the countryside as you talk to young people, their knowledge of the local issues and their opinions about the solutions are impeccable.

The question is how can that be harnessed? How can the engine of the future be ignited by 60 million youth? Does the UN step in? Or maybe the AU? Or a non-profit organization? Maybe even the private sector, with innovative start-ups and fantastic ideas? I would argue that all the above can contribute to harnessing this engine.

BUT at the end, the heart of the engine remains the youth. They are the source of the synergy. Young Ethiopians might not have all things needed for an ecology that enables them to perform at their highest level – but what I’ve seen in all – is the love for their families, their communities, their culture, their society and their country. Their love of humanity. All forged in Synergy – all made through passion.

Maybe that is how the story begins. With passion and with Synergy. “With the interaction of young people that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual person.”

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