Feature - July 26, 2022

Day AU-ECOSOCC launched its 2nd Young Africans Writing Contest

The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), an advisory organ of the African Union, recently launched the 2nd edition of its Young Africans Writing Contest (YAWC22) as well as a Policy Booklet on the Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA).

 

 

 

 

By Stephen Enoch

YAWC22 was launched in Lusaka, Zambia, as part of a series of AU ECOSOCC activities to mark the Pan African Month (PAM). The 2nd ECOSOCC writing contest is being implemented in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH [the German Agency for International Cooperation]. The competition offers young people the opportunity to contribute their ideas to Africa’s advancement through writing.

The AU ECOSOCC launched the inaugural edition of its Young Africans Writing Contest (YAWC) in 2021 to bridge the gap between African youth and the African Union. The inaugural contest, which drew over a thousand participants from across Africa, sought to empower African youths to reflect on their contributions to the continent’s development.

Themed: “A day in the life of a migrant child” in recognition of the reality that millions of African children move across borders and contribute to mobility on the continent, the 2022 contest seeks to encourage youths to reflect on the place of children in Africa’s migration and mobility discourse, particularly the AU’s Free Movement Protocol (FMP), which seeks to remove prevailing barriers to Africans’ free movement across regional and national boundaries for visit, trade, live, work, and establishment of businesses.

Alongside the launch of YAWC22, the event saw the unveiling of ECOSOCC’s Policy Booklet on the Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA), which offers AU Member States and RECs comprehensive policy guidelines to assist the formulation and implementation of national and regional migration policies. To this end, the policy booklet aims to popularize policies supporting free movement on the continent.

In 2021, ECOSOCC and GIZ cooperated on a number of expert webinar series to popularise the MPFA and its Plan of Action (2018-2030) as well as FMP among Africa’s civil society, while also defining the role of African CSOs in advocating and contributing to the implementation of AU’s free movement policies. It was the outcome of the webinar series that formed the basis for the MPFA policy booklet.

Ambassador Amr Aljowaily, strategic adviser to the deputy chairperson of the AU Commission, while officially launching this year’s writing contest, commended the ECOSOCC Secretariat and GIZ for the initiative aimed at actively engaging African youth in the affairs of the continent.

“The pen is much more powerful than a thousand swords and could be leveraged to achieve a better life for the citizenry of the African continent. The fact that we are here is a reflection of the commitment of AUC leadership to engaging civil society. We have both the civil society, youth and the government here today and it is noteworthy to state that all parties need to work together to reach the same destination,” he said.

Mr Denise Kodhe, the ECOSOCC presiding officer, urged youths who would be participating in the writing competition – which opened July 16 and closes September 16, 2022 – to see it as a unique opportunity to express themselves, as well as a stepping stone for even greater opportunities within and beyond Africa. He, however, decried the human rights abuse faced by Europe-bound African migrants, calling for better treatment of migrants by transit countries.

“We have to treat migrants who seek asylum with care, not with disdain as is seen in certain borders between Africa and Europe. The beauty of migration within the continent is that it further strengthens integration in Africa. People can only do business under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) when there is free movement of people, one which aids the exploration of opportunities by businesses across the continent,” Mr Kodhe said.

“We have to treat migrants who seek asylum with care, not with disdain as is seen in certain borders between Africa and Europe. The beauty of migration within the continent is that it further strengthens integration in Africa. People can only do business under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) when there is free movement of people, one which aids the exploration of opportunities by businesses across the continent,” Mr Kodhe said.

William Carew, head of the ECOSOCC Secretariat, said the free movement of people within Africa presented significant development opportunities for achieving continental integration. In addition, he noted that recent statistics had shown that by 2050, the population of young Africans will double from the current 480 million to about 840 million, making the continent home to the world’s youngest population and presenting Africa with tremendous prospects.

Carew, however, noted that, if not properly harnessed, increases in the population of young people would present enormous challenges. He described the writing contest as one of ECOSOCC initiatives meant to “to give effect to Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063 [An Africa whose development is people driven, especially its Women and Youth, and caring for Children]. This year’s YAWC intends to give our young people some intellectual latitude to explore and interrogate the multifaceted and intersectional issues around children on the move.”

It is noteworthy that GIZ has since 2016 been cooperating with the AU to foster safe, orderly, and regular migration within Africa. To this end, ECOSOCC and GIZ in May this year launched a series of regional civil society sensitization forums on FMP and MPFA, targeting Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and media actors across the continent. The sensitization forums seek to improve the civil society’s understanding of Africa’s migration policies and enhance their role as champions of the advocacy for the policies’ implementation.

 

You can download a copy of the ECOSOCC Policy Booklet on the Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA) here and find application details for the 2nd Young Africans Writing Contest (YAWC22) here.

 

 

 

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