Young Africans have pledged to work harder and ensure that the continent achieves its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
In a virtual discussion organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) under the theme “African Youth in the Decade of Action: Actors or Spectators” on December 20, young people from across the continent agreed that they had a role to play in ensuring that Africa achieved 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. She said, “ As a climate activist, I didn’t sit around feeling helpless… I started growing trees when I was seven.
Ms. Wathuti however noted that young Africans need to be taken more seriously and their voices and interests must be an integral part of decision-making processes.
“Youth engagement does not mean inviting young people on panels. Meaningful engagement means internalizing that young people and future generations have the greatest stake in the decisions made today.”
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.”
Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ECA, 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 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.”
Ms. 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 which also creates jobs for young girls in Africa.
Ms. Songwe 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.
She 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”. goals. Their energy, ideals and initiatives are crucial to achieving the Goals.
Emma Theofelus, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Information, Communications and Technology, said making data accessible to young people will go a long way to improving Africa’s growth, adding, “We need young people in positions decision-makers. They should be at the tables where the future of Africa is discussed
Adji Bousso Dieng, founder of The Africa I Know, noted that what is lacking 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 need for increased collaboration to enhance growth in Africa was highlighted by Thobo Khathola, Managing Director of Lion Tutoring, who expressed hope that “the AfCFTA will allow us to collaborate even more.”
The issue of unemployment, poverty and lack of education was raised by Achalake Christian Leke, Executive Director of LOYOC Cameroon, who noted that “this is a big problem for Africa” and that there is a need to s attack it immediately. “This needs to be resolved if we want to see progress 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 goals of sustainable development ; providing young Africans 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.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
© Press Release 2021