12 August 2022 – Today, the APRM Family joins the rest of the world in celebrating International Youth Day. As we celebrate International Youth Day, I wish to remind young people of the prophetic words by one of the renowned Pan Africanists and revolutionary leader, Amilcar Cabral who reminded us that “people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children…” We therefore call on our Leaders to take this International Youth Day to reflect on the ideas presented by our youth.
As our leaders reflect on the ideas presented by our youth, we should always be reminded that our African Union, has put our youth at the center of the socio-economic transformation of our continent through Agenda 2063, Aspiration 6 which calls ‘An Africa Whose Development is people driven, relying on the potential offered by African People, especially its Women and Youth, and caring for Children’.
We should also be reminiscent that all the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals affect youth directly. Therefore, active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable societies in Africa and the world.
We should therefore continue to be inspired of the fact that both our AU Agenda 2063 and the UN Agenda 2030 underscored the importance of transforming the lives of our youth, ensuring material benefits for them, a better live and peace and a guaranteed better future for their children.
This year’s theme for the international youth day, ‘Intergenerational solidarity: Creating a world for all ages” calls on all of us to promote intergenerational dialogue an co-creation of solutions so that we ensure a united, peaceful, prosperous world that is more equitable, just and inclusive for all people. We should not only listen to young people, but we should ensure that they take their rightful place in decision-making platforms at all levels.
As the APRM, we are guided by the ethos that view African youth as important stakeholders in the APRM philosophy, methodology and processes. It is our conviction therefore that efforts of strengthening democracy and good governance on the continent will only be strengthened with their meaningful participation. It is against this background that we annually hold the APRM Youth Symposium, a platform tailored to bring youth and decision makers for an intergenerational dialogue to consolidate youth participation in democracy and good governance.
This year, the Symposium was hosted by the Republic of Uganda. The Youth leaders called for the repositioning of the youth agenda for a transformative continent. They also made it clear that the deficiency of democracy and good governance on the African continent compounded by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have exacerbated poverty, inequality, unemployment, and discrimination in their communities with youth and young people as the most affected.
However, not all is doom and gloom, during the peak of the Covid-19 Pandemic, African youth defended their communities by creatively sensitizing communities and helped a great deal with distribution of food parcels and personal protective equipment. In many countries we are starting to witness renewed interest by young people in democracy and good governance. Young people in great numbers are upscaling their participation and contesting elections. This is the Africa We Want, an Africa where no one is left behind.
We urge our leaders in government and private sector to urgently act in addressing lack of youth skills development, skills mismatch, unstable labour market, gender discrimination, inappropriate or lack of career guidance in schools. The scourge of youth unemployment in most African countries has caused unbearable pain for the masses of African young people.
We need to start taking young people’s demands seriously- they are the majority, and the future of Africa and the world which are dependent on it as demographic dividend. We therefore call on young people to take up the challenge of being transformative leaders with a vision and a clear agenda for creating a better world for all ages.
I call on all of us to empower our youth and make Africa a better place for all of us.