The Africa Youth Day is an annual event aimed at recognizing and promoting the role of young people as key drivers for socio-economic change, inclusive growth and sustainable development of the African continent
By Adam Alqali
The 1st day of November was proclaimed and instituted as Africa Youth Day on the occasion of the adoption of the African Youth Charter by the African Union in 2006 as part of the AU’s Executive Council Decision Summit held in Banjul
And the purpose for this year’s celebration, according to the AU, was “to promote an increased recognition of youth as key agents for social change and economic growth in all aspects of the African society, to contribute and channel youth motivation, energy and idealism, to reinforce the efforts towards the achievement of sustainable development in Africa.”
Speaking on this year’s commemoration themed “Promoting Youth Mainstreaming as a Catalyst Towards Harnessing Demographic Dividend” His Excellency Martial De-Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST) at the AU Commission stated that youth were not only defined by their age but also by what they carry in their minds and emphasized the importance of youth inclusion in tandem with the 6th Aspiration of Agenda 2063.
The 6th aspiration of Agenda 2063 envisages an Africa, “whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children”.
Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years which builds on and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.
NextGen Africa Initiative, a youth-focused NGO, therefore commemorated the African Youth Day 2016 in Lagos, Nigeria through a programme that brought together over twenty-five young from people across four cities in Nigeria and Ghana and featured discussions around the roles of young people in achieving the Africa We Want Agenda 2063 of the African Union from a multifaceted perspective.
“About 65% of the African population is young making the continent the youngest continent in the world. Therefore, it is imperative to harness the power and skills of the youth demography; to involve them in decision making towards making Africa united, prosperous and an influential global player based on inclusive growth and sustainable development by 2063,” says NextGen Africa Team Lead Joshua Alade.
The event featured sessions around raising awareness on the African Youth Charter, screening of a documentary on the Africa We Want Agenda 2063 and the need to make young people the focal point in the process as well as the need for significant efforts to promote the use of modern technology in every area of Africa’s sustainable future, by encouraging careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics among young people.
Speaking at the event, Fola Folayan, a youth advocate and radio presenter spoke on the critical role of the media in terms of agenda setting for the promotion Africa’s sustainable development as well as the need for African youth to utilize social media networks in bringing out African stories from their communities to create the needed visibility for such stories to be reported by the media.
Folayan said in the age of Facebook and Livestreaming the youth were what constitute the media urging young people to use the various social media networks to raise awareness about issues in their community and thus influence how the media tells such stories.
The duo of Winifred Imoyera and Isabella Ivy of the African Union Youth Working Group on Human Rights and Gender Matters led the group of youth in a lively discussion examining the power of an educated and skilled girl-child in the society, identified women empowerment as a key driver for sustainable development on the continent and so urged men to promote gender equality by saying no to gender-based violence.
In his vote of thanks, NextGen Africa Team Lead Joshua Alade encouraged the youth participants to work towards creating awareness on African Union’s Africa We Want Agenda 2063 as well as ensure collaborations among various youth networks across Africa by utilizing the social media to tell the African story from the perspective of the youth.
“The future of our great continent lies in the hands of young people and we have to do all we can to ensure an inclusive and sustainable Africa for us and generations yet unborn,” said Alade.
With a population of over 200 million young people, a figure that is said to double by 2045, certainly Africa’s is ahead of other continents of the world in terms of the immense potentialities its youth population presents, if well harnessed, failure to do which could as well mean disaster for the continent.
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