African youth urged to play leadership roles in continent’s development

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The call came from various speakers at the opening of the YouthConnekt Africa Summit which began Thursday in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

The two-day annual youth summit that connects youth from across the continent and beyond is being held under the theme “Accelerating Investments in Youth: Resilient Youth, Resilient Africa.”

“Young Africans are the hope and future of our great continent. Your countries and governments are relying on your individual and collective contributions in order to realize the vision of a prosperous and peaceful Africa,” said Namibia’s President Hage Geingob when addressing the summit via video.

Kenya’s Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said young people were at the frontline of socioeconomic challenges facing nations such as unemployment, access to capital, and climate change, and encouraged the youth not to sit as bystanders but look for opportunities to offer leadership.

“Outside of young people, Africa is not going to discover any new significant forces or resources for transformative growth in the face of challenges such as climate change. Prosperity demands accelerating investment in young people because the youth are the majority in Africa,” he said.

Gachagua challenged the youth to be responsible, push for youth representation and be mentors of youth innovation, and insisted that investing in the youth begins with placing the youth agenda on the national development agenda.

Senegalese President Macky Sall, who is also the chairperson of the African Union for the year 2022, told the summit via video that caring for the continent’s youth was the best investment to make for the present and the future, while Rwandan President Paul Kagame said young people should be treated as equal partners in countries’ development agenda.

According to Maxwell Gomera, UNDP Representative in Rwanda, Africa’s progress and sustainability needed ‘supercharging’ with the youth as an engine for growth and productivity. “Young people don’t have access to the funding needed to run their business. Up to 42 percent of young people fail to get that funding. Sometimes their dreams remain a hobby and (they) are unable to take their dream to the market and reach their customers,” he said.

Key issues to be discussed at the summit include the contribution of youth toward climate action, sustainable peace and security, the cultural creative industry, sports, the economy, as well as skilling for the digital economy. There are more than 226 million people aged from 15 to 24 on the continent, according to the UN. End

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