Create opportunities for youth to lead— YouthConnect Africa delegates

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Mr Pius Hadzide (3rd from left), the Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority, showcasing Ghana's innovation award, as Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa (right) looks on
Mr Pius Hadzide (3rd from left), the Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority, showcasing Ghana's innovation award, as Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa (right) looks on

Participants in the Youth Connect Africa summit in Accra have called on governments on the continent to create opportunities for young people to lead in economic integration policies and deal-breaking initiatives.

Offering such opportunities to the youth, they said, was a sure way to accelerate the development and growth of the continent.

Also, they urged governments to mobilise trade financing for young entrepreneurs to enable them to participate in the larger Africa market.

These were contained in a communique issued by the over 3,000 delegates who attended the summit in person and 15,000 young people who joined virtually.

The communique was read by the president of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Mr Emmanuel Yiadom Boakye, at the end of the three-day summit last Friday.

Investments

The communique called for investment in capacity building for women to create leadership champions, entrepreneurs and job creators.

They also asked for investment in building logistics infrastructure and systems that would enable young entrepreneurs to quickly jump onto the opportunity created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Africa Beyond Aid

In addition, the youth wanted their governments to “make Africa Beyond Aid a reality and not a mere statement through intra Africa collaboration across sectors”.

It said the youth could also lead the way out of unemployment, if production corridors along value chains of the continent’s commodities and services were created.

That, the communique said, could be made easy through prioritising and harmonising the accreditations for different professions across the continent, in addition to the promotion of industry relevant education.

Summit

The summit, which was on the theme: “Africa Beyond Aid: Positioning the Youth for the Post COVID Economy and AfCFTA Opportunities”, also came with the Hashtag: “YouthCanDoIt”.

During the summit, young people from across the continent engaged with political leaders, policy makers and development stakeholders to deliberate on ways to leverage innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship for youth empowerment and well being for the sustainable development of the continent.

The summit served as a platform for young people to discuss and share good practices, driven by the youth, to build resilience to the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Encouragement

During the opening ceremony, the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, encouraged the youth not to go into entrepreneurship narrowly but rather use entrepreneurship to help solve challenges in their communities

He said AfCFTA presented enormous opportunities for new business startups by the youth.

“Together, let’s all co-own and co-create to make the country[ Ghana] a better place by leveraging the opportunities AfCFTA presents to our youth,” he said.

He told the youth: “It is your knowledge and creativity that will contribute significantly to its realisation.”

Scaling barriers

The Assistant Secretary General and Director of the UNDP Africa Regional Bureau, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, said young people had spoken about the barriers they faced and the fences they must scale in complex and discriminatory regulatory practices that made it impossible for them to achieve their dreams.

She said the UNDP would work with governments to provide an enabling environment for the youth.

“We also have a renewed sense of urgency to scale up our programmes, supporting young people’s efforts for the Made in Africa Revolution”, she said.

Commitment

The Rwandan Minister of Youth and Culture, Ms Rosemary Mbabadzi, who represented the President of Rwanda, Mr Paul Kagame, commended Ghana for hosting the summit.

She said the ministers of youth from the African countries, who attended the summit, were committed and enthusiastic to implementing the shared visions and strategies to make the African Beyond Aid agenda a possibility.

She urged African ministers of youth to inspire and encourage the youth to dare and dream big.

“We have the most committed, agile generation that are major assets that can help transform our continent,' she said.

Partnership

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Mustapha Yussif, said all stakeholders, including businesses, civil society, media and the government, must form partnerships to advance youth empowerment.

For the sustainable development of the continent, he said the under-representation of the youth in political processes must be addressed.