The 2022 YouLead Africa Summit, one of Africa’s most diverse youth forums bringing policymakers together with youth leaders, private sector and NGO stakeholders to address pressing youth development challenges, commenced Monday in Arusha, Tanzania.
Since 2017, the YouLead Summit has been convened jointly by the East African Community (EAC) and MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation (MS-TCDC), through their youth engagement initiatives – the EAC’s Youth Ambassadors Platform and MS-TCDC’s Africa Youth Leadership Program (YouLead), respectively. In 2021, the East African Business Council (EABC) joined the partnership to promote youth participation in trade.
The weeklong conference themed: ‘Digital Access and Future of Work,” seeks to take stock of the transformational role of digital access in the future of work in Africa. Thus, the meeting will examine the state of digital transformation, the future of work for African youth and subsequently put forward solutions for a predictable future of decent employment and work opportunities for the youth.
Ms Makena Mwobobia, MS-TCDC’s executive director, said the Summit was a platform for policymakers and youth leaders to co-create solutions to youth-specific challenges, adding that the adoption of digital innovation in addressing such challenges had now become inevitable.
“In many ways, we can see that digital transformation has opened more possibilities for young people on this continent. Therefore, when we improve young people’s digital access, and break the digital gap, we will step closer to a more inclusive and sustainable Africa. At the same time, we must remember our commitment to gender equality and recognize great milestones made at various levels,” she stated.
Ms Mwobobia acknowledged African countries’ recent economic growth which has now been slowed by the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, with disproportionate effect on youth-owned enterprises.
“Although we are improving trade in our regional blocs, it is very complicated for young people to fully reap the benefits of some of the frameworks and policies that are in place. It is high-time we look into promoting unity and free movement of people across Africa’s boundaries as it will improve and consolidate our economic, social and political power as a continent,” Ms Mwobobia said.
In his keynote, Prof Eddy Maloka, CEO of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), one of the summit organizing partners, called on African governments, private sector and development partners to upscale their support in the area of training for young policymakers and business leaders, as Africa’s future depends, to a large extent, on the quality of its human resource.
Prof Maloka said the Summit’s outcome will advise governments, civil society, private sector and development partners on repositioning the AfCFTA’s youth agenda and encourage the youth delegates to demand accountability from their leaders, noting that the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and SDGs could only be achieved with the active participation of youth in co-creating solutions to Africa’s development challenges.
“Africa needs more youth in government. Thus, the three arms of government in all African countries should start reflecting the demographic reality of the continent. We commend countries that are already performing well as far as the election of youth into public offices is concerned. We need to have more young people as captains of industry and bring the ACFTA into life,” concluded Maloka, who spoke through Jean Yves Adou, head of knowledge management, monitoring and evaluation at APRM.
Ms. Irene Isaka, director in charge of the social sector at EAC Secretariat, said the YouLead Summit had in the last 6 years grown from an annual convening to a full-fledged program, working to unlock youth leadership potential for a prosperous continent. She said YouLead had, through its two pillars of ‘youth in politics’ and ‘youth in business’, built one of the strongest youth participation platforms on the continent, providing engagement opportunities for youth in the EAC and AU processes.
“ In the ‘youth in business’ pillar, we have been able to initiate the AfCFTA Youth Inclusion Accelerator Project to amplify continental mobilization, awareness, engagement and participation of African youths (between the ages of 18-35) in the implementation of the AfCFTA, which has led to the exponential increase in interest on AfCFTA from African youths and also galvanized a number of partners in supporting tangible initiatives for the youth entrepreneurs participating in cross-border trade,” Ms Isaka explained.
This 6th YouLead Africa Summit was preceded by the 3rd Cohort of the Youlead Continental Bootcamp for Youth Leaders and Policy Makers on Youth inclusion in Social-Economic Development and Policy Formulation in Africa. The YouLead Secretariat says the 2022 Summit’s outcomes will inform its proposed Summit of the Future in 2023 and offer practical steps for exploring creative policy models for impactful businesses in the African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) era.
The German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), a leading global think-tank…