The central proposition of this paper holds that the legacy outcomes of present youth empowerment interventions in developing countries hold the key to the attainment of the age structure that would support the emergence of the demographic dividend. The paper reviews the global and local context of the situation of the youth and presents a conceptual understanding of youth empowerment, the demographic dividends and the structural nexus between them. Critical to its core proposition is the observation that focusing private and public investments, including policy orientation on the empowerment of the youth, provide an enduring pedestal for the economic and social inclusion of the youth in a way that places Kenya‟s demographic dividends within reach. Anchored on the empowerment theory and the theory of change, the paper outlines a synthesis of some of the most practical ways through which both state and non-state actors in developing countries like Kenya, can harness a country‟s youth bulge for the full realization of the demographic dividend potential. From the literature, it is deduced that youth empowerment initiatives and investments that signal the emergence of the demographic dividend are mutually reinforcing; even convergent. Towards the realization of the full demographic dividend potential, the paper recommends new policy orientation for youth-centric programmes on education, health and economic inclusion, explicit integration of pro-youth programmes in national development agenda, budget prioritization in youth-targeting programmes, and new national policy on youth skill and talent development that helps maximize their lifetime potential and chances.
Keywords: Empowerment, Youth Empowerment, Age Structure, Demographic Dividend, Education, Health, Family Planning, Entrepreneurship.