Addis Ababa, December 21, 2021 (Walta) – Young Africans have pledged to work harder and ensure that the continent achieves its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Monday organized a virtual discussion under the theme “African Youth in the Decade of Action: Actors or Spectators”.
ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe said that despite the negative effects, COVID-19 has presented huge opportunities in the areas of innovation and tourism, showing that Africa has the potential to grow and grow. to create jobs for its young people.
She urged young people to take advantage of these opportunities to “create their own jobs and become the employers and entrepreneurs of a prosperous Africa by 2030.”
Songwe cited an ECA youth program called African Girls Can Code – which connects girls across Africa, enabling them to learn about the internet of things, artificial intelligence and games – as an initiative that also creates jobs for young girls in Africa.
She said that with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Africa can start manufacturing on the continent and add value in the various sectors of our economy.
Songwe highlighted that young people are the most impacted by the SDGs, saying “they have the most to gain from high quality education, decent work, gender equality and a healthy planet. – or lose the most if the world fails to meet these Goals Their energy, ideas and initiatives are crucial to achieving the Goals.
On this occasion, young people from across the continent agreed that they had a role to play in ensuring that Africa achieves the SDGs.
In her keynote address, climate and environment activist, Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti commended her peers across Africa who are working hard to ensure the SDGs are achieved by 2030.
“As a climate activist, I didn’t sit still and feel helpless…I started growing trees when I was seven.”
Wathuti noted, however, that young Africans need to be taken more seriously and their voices and interests should be an integral part of the decision-making process.
“Youth engagement does not mean inviting young people to participate in panels. Meaningful engagement means internalizing that young people and future generations have the greatest stake in the decisions made today,” she said.
The UN Secretary-General’s envoy on youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, said Africa was blessed with the youngest population in the world, with a median age of just 19.7.
She expressed her confidence in the ability of young people to steer the continent’s trajectory in the 21st century, warning that “their success or failure will also be that of the continent as a whole.”
Africa I Know founder Adji Bousso Dieng noted that what is missing is investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“We don’t have the skills and infrastructure in place to turn the raw material into finished products for export. This deprives young people of employment opportunities on the continent.
The event served as a platform for young people to engage with leaders to renew their commitment to the 2030 Agenda and to advocate for urgency, ambition and action to achieve the SDGs; provide African youth with a virtual hub to mobilize, reflect on their needs and aspirations, and build coalitions for positive change through the achievement of the Goals.
It was also an opportunity for the young leaders to share best practices, experiences and challenges in their work towards the goals, and to brainstorm concrete ideas and actions that young women and men can take in their communities, respective countries and regions to ensure that Africa achieves the goals by 2030.