AUC Chairperson Challenges the African Youth to be more innovative as the world celebrates the International Youth Day
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 14th August 2015: African Union Commission joined the rest of the world on the 12th of August in commemorating the International Youth Day (IYD) under the theme “Youth Civic Engagement.” The event brought under one roof, the Chairperson of the Commission, H.E Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology, H.E Dr Martial De Paul Ikounga, the Commissioner for political Affairs, H.E Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullahi and African youth from all circles.
The interaction was a window of opportunity for the youth to express their views and to point out the several issues that hinder their full participation and civic engagement hence subsequently, the youth empowerment the continent. They identified different challenges such as the access to the adequate knowledge, corruption, and political instability, discrimination against women, illegal immigration and youth unemployment.
One of the main issues raised was the education reform in Africa. H.E Dr Dlamini Zuma underscored the necessity of a radical restructuring of the educational system across the continent. Education was highlighted as a precondition for the structural transformation of African economies and to stop exporting jobs out of the continent, while the majority of African Youth are facing the effects of unemployment.
The AUC Chairperson invited the African countries and the international community to pay more attention on tertiary education which was neglected in the Millennium Development Goals in the past. She reiterated the crucial role of the youth in the promotion of African Union activities and the Pan Africanism. In that regard, she urged the youth to create African Union Clubs in schools and universities.
On youth unemployment which proved to be the biggest challenge amongst the youth in the continent, Dr Dlamini Zuma agreed that as much as efforts are being put in place to curb this issue, it is still not enough and called on youth to be more innovative at the same time urged governments and private sectors of all the countries in Africa to create job opportunities. “Young people are leaving their countries out of desperation not out of choice because of lack of jobs in their own home. This must change and it begins at individual country levels.” Dr. Dlamini Zuma emphasized.
The Commissioner for Political Affairs, H.E Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, reiterated the same and called upon the youth to stay in their countries and contribute in the development of the continent. Dr Aisha also called on the youth to get more involved in the electoral processes and other democratic activities in their countries.
The Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology, H.E Dr Martial De Paul Ikounga, recognized the involvement and participation of youth as essential to achieve sustainable human development and urged the youth to stop waiting for jobs from leaders only but instead go out of their way and become innovators and also take the prime role in creating employment opportunities.
The AU Commission Chairperson also took advantage of the discussions to highlight the crucial role that the African youth will play in the implementation process of the Agenda 2063. The African youth should, therefore, own the vision, take part in popularization of this important development framework and be at the forefront for its implementation.
She highlighted some Agenda 2063 flagship projects such as the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), the establishment of an African Passport, the African commodities strategies, among others, aimed at improving the livelihoods on the Continent. However, the vision requires critical factors including the creation of space for young people, the management of the diversity in African countries, the spirit of creativity and innovation as well as a paradigm shift to become a reality.
International Youth Day was created by the United Nations and first celebrated in 1998. The event is now marked on 12 August each year; the day aims to celebrate the contribution youths make to society. It will also be worth noting that asides from the global Youth Day, the African continent commemorates the African Youth Day annually on 1st of November.
African Union Commission