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Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa:”To harnessing the youth potential as an opportunity the Continent has to achieve its vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa”

On The occasion of the African Prospective Leaders’ Summit, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission invited to promote the continent’s youth as drivers of development. “The current and future leaders of Africa”.

By Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa

The African Union recognizes the youth population as a critical resource towards the development of the continent and seeks to empower younger generations to be resilient advocates of change towards addressing the challenges that they continue to face on the road to the Africa we want. An intergenerational dialogue such as this one where our future African leaders are granted the platform and opportunity to engage with present and former leaders serves as a valuable platform for the empowerment of our young leaders who I implore to seize this opportunity to make your visions and expectations known. 

“They are the current and future leaders of Africa and without the focused and accelerated push towards their success, this potential demographic dividend will remain just that: only potential”

The importance of young people as drivers of development cannot be overemphasized. They are the current and future leaders of Africa and without the focused and accelerated push towards their success, this potential demographic dividend will remain just that: only potential. In the worst-case scenario, in the absence of harnessing this potential on a continent where the median age is 18.8 years old, this is a prescription for disaster. 

Paying attention to young people is in the interest of Africa and should not be perceived as doing them a favour or fulfilling a human rights imperative. In my view, there are five things we must do to that effect: 

  • Invest in them- there is no better investment in the human capital than Education and health; 
  • Include them- by mainstreaming their issues across all policies/programs and taking their views through consultations; 
  • Trust them- with access to finance, jobs, markets and public procurement opportunities; 
  • Entrust them- with leadership roles and taking care of societies and the environment; 
  • Protect them- by ensuring peace and stability.

The “1 Million Next Level” Initiative is to reach 300 million youth by 2030

At the African Union Commission, we are committed to harnessing the youth potential as an opportunity the Continent has to achieve its vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa. Three main initiatives speak to that fact: 

First- as we work towards the full reform of our beloved continental institution, we are monitoring the strategies decided upon to reach 35% of youth in our workplace. We look forward to receiving applications from some of you in this very room. 

Second- we have also successfully completed “1 Million by 2021” Initiative that sought to reach 1 million youth through Education, Entrepreneurship, Engagement and Employment and Health and Wellbeing (the 4 E’s and H) by 2021, where we exceeded the target by reaching over 8 million youth. Its successor, the “1 Million Next Level” Initiative, is to reach 300 million youth by 2030. This is not an easy feat and requires all hands on deck! 

Third- the AU Women and Youth Financial and Economic Inclusion “WYFEI 2030” Initiative which was launched on the 22nd of July this year will also be key amongst the youth centered programmes that will be discussed. The initiative seeks to unlock $100 Billion for at least 10 million African women and youth businesses by 2030 among other deliverables. The “Energize Africa” youth program spearheaded by the AUDA-NEPAD and its partners, is one bold step on the WYFEI 2030 path. This forum provides an excellent platform for engaging the beneficiaries on ways to enhance our reach and achieve our mandate. 

To addressing the challenges that African Youth continue to face in their efforts to realize a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa

Distinguished Delegates and Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; 

Let me conclude by extending my warm appreciation to everyone present here today. The outcome of the discussions we have here will serve as information to policy makers and assist the design and implementation of effective policies towards the achievement of the Agenda 2063. 

I hope we have successful engagements and recommit to addressing the challenges that African Youth continue to face in their efforts to realize a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa. I encourage us to take advantage of platforms such as these and collaborate in coming up with key actions and steps towards youth empowerment and Pan Africanism. I commend you all for the work that you have done and continue to do. It is my hope that we all continue to implement actions collectively for Africa. 

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