General News

Wednesday, 15th of November, 2017.

 

“Equipping the Youth to Renegotiate Africa’s Position in the era of Africa Rising”

 

Mr. Chairman

Learned fellows of Academia

Distinguished audience etc,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to thank the organizers for offering me the opportunity of sharing my perspectives and taking stock of current trends in Africa's development. I consider this dialogue an important part of what it takes to go through an institution of higher learning. A vibrant discourse on problems of society outside the formal curricular of each academic discipline is a sine qua non for a University degree from a reputable University like yours. Such vivacity was the case in my days at Legon when youths at the University of Ghana played vital roles in shaping policies for the country and even for our continent. The fight against apartheid, and the liberation of the rest of Africa from the last vestiges of colonialism, for instance, benefitted tremendously from youths in Universities on the continent. Ghanaian students of my days were no exception. So, I am extremely happy to be here at this prestigious University to discuss efforts to have our youths improve the lot of our continent by giving momentum to the fight against poverty and to make Africa truly rise.

 

Mr. Chairperson/ Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

At a time, most developed economies are in crisis, a lot of African economies are on the upswing. Since 2010, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has been convinced, like most multilateral agencies, including the Bretton Wood Institutions that the African economies are like "lions on the move".

Yet the continued failure of commodity prices to recover significantly and the global slowdown of economic growth, especially in China and other emerging markets, made 2016 a tumultuous year for many African economies, indeed, "the worst year for average economic growth" in the region in over twenty years, according to a report from Ernst & Young. Compounding these trends, varying dynamics within the continent's biggest economies meant that Nigeria slipped into recession while South Africa barely lurched forward with anaemic 0.2 per cent growth in the third quarter.

Looking ahead, only African countries which have diversified their economies, focused on energy infrastructure, and promoted industrialization will be best poised to overcome the challenges of sustained economic growth. For now, despite the deterioration in the performance of key economies, the rest of Africa was able to maintain stable rates of GDP and productivity growth over the past five years. Real GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.4% a year. Productivity grew at a compound annual rate of 1.7% over the same period. The real challenge, for me, is the question of how to equip the successor generation of you the youth of today to renegotiate Africa’s position through building on the phenomenon of ‘Africa rising’.

The trend of globalization has foisted increased interconnectedness on businesses or other organizations to develop international influence or start operating on an international scale. The story of fast-growing African economies as a result of a boom in commodity prices; the development of the manufacturing and service industries; a fast-growing middle class; the continent's enthusiasm for technology; as well as more favorable political and security conditions are well too familiar. This results in several African countries being consistently among the world's fastest-growing economies.

However, while strong growth and an improvement in living conditions for millions of Africans were observed before, during and after the global financial crisis, conditions deteriorated between 2014 and 2016, and in the early part of 2017. Weaker global growth and a slump in commodity prices eroded economic growth in many countries, resulting in rising unemployment. In Africa’s current situation, there is an urgent need for a purposeful preparation of young Africans to massively deploy and brace up for the advantages, as well as challenges of ‘Africa Rising’ and mobilize them to increase trade and cultural exchanges across the globe.

 

What is ‘Africa Rising’?

There is a groundswell of opinions for and against the concept of Africa Rising. Whether it is true or not, what cannot be disputed is that Africa has to contend with the competitiveness of globalization. A more integrated world market must be leveraged to open a wide potential for greater growth. Such a situation presents an unparalleled opportunity for African countries to raise their living standards.

The notion of African Rising itself gained global attention in the first decade of this century. It was coined to describe the rapid economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa and the belief in the inevitability of further, rapid development on the continent. Almost all independent economic research organizations agree on this.

Over the past decade, six of the world's ten fastest-growing countries were African. In eight of the past ten years, Africa has grown faster than East Asia, including Japan. Even allowing for the knock-on effect of the northern hemisphere's slowdown, the IMF expects Africa to continue to grow, some by as much as mid-to-high single-digit economic growth, and some double-digit till most become middle income earning nations by 2025.

For most researchers, this development has been due largely to improved governance and democratization of African states since the end of the Cold War. Africa’s relative peace, greater availability of mobile phones and other forms of information technologies, has seen the increase in African consumer spending as well as a growth in entrepreneurship. This may not be disputable because between 2005 and 2015, the economy of Africa as a whole increased by 50 per cent in contrast to a world average of 23 per cent.

The new crop of leaders on the continent have forged ahead with high strategic development initiatives to ensure that Africa does not remain in the periphery of the global economy by diversifying their respective economies, institutionalisation of macroeconomic policies that would change the continent from being "cash poor and project rich", which has a consequence of interventions and policies of donor institutions in the past.

Projected to be inching towards a combined Gross Domestic Product of $2.6 trillion by 2020, Africa’s growth rate is one that has been on the upward trend. In the last two decades, most countries of the continent have posted impressive growth rates, and in some cases, such as in Ethiopia, and Ivory Coast have stunned pundits with double digits, that by 2025 they may likely become middle-income nations.

Will the trend continue?

Some analysts have indicated that these gains in Africa are not equitably shared. For example, the UNDP notes that: "On average, the top twenty percent of earners in Africa have incomes which are more than ten times greater than those of the bottom twenty percent." The unequal distribution of resources, power, and wealth, combined with inequitable social norms, sustain persistent inequalities. The same source has concerns on gender inequality. It notes that "gender inequality costs sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 billion a year, or six percent of the region's GDP." Such inequities definitely raise fears of social strife and conflict which could hamper continued and sustained rising of Africa.

In the era of globalization, what affects one country may have a ripple effect and reverberate across the globe in split seconds. China, the world's second-largest economy is no longer soaring as it had been doing as India and Japan weakened, Europe is lagging and North America’s demands have become limited. In such a situation, will sub-Saharan Africa stagnate and current prospects deteriorate? I asked this question advisedly because given unexpected additional problems on the near horizon, will Africa’s peoples be able to realize the kinds of social advances that had appeared to be within their reach? The answer is yes, provided critical steps are taken and ongoing initiatives are consolidated and sustained. This is precisely the rationale behind the SDGs and the AU Agenda 2063 that put emphasis on prevention of conflict and transformation of the continent.

Factors slowing down the pace of the African lions

Fear of complacency and overdependence on natural resources which lead to jobless growth

As earlier stated, until very recently, the nations of sub-Saharan Africa were growing economically at an average of five per cent a year, much faster than the rest of the world. A few of them, especially the petroleum and gas producers, had been rising at even higher, double-digit, rates. But that growth trajectory has now come to a shuddering halt as China's demand for oil, iron ore, copper, chrome, the metallic ore coltan and other precious natural resources has slowed substantially. Simultaneously, the formerly high prices for commodities have tumbled, so Africans and other exporters of primary goods have suffered a double whammy as mines have been shuttered and pipeline deliveries slowed. The pace of exploration in West and East African waters has also considerably faltered. This is all the more so concerning as 2/3 of African economy depends on exports of a few commodities. A case in point is the Central African countries that are now in economic crisis owing to the sharp drop in the oil prices.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic resurgence in this century has been fuelled by multiple factors. A number of studies by authoritative institutions such as UNECA, UNFPA, UNDP, the World Bank and IMF show that there are significant gains for instance in terms of reduction of child mortality, unprecedented access to primary education, literacy and access to primary health services. Furthermore, (i) democracy is developing and governments are increasingly being held accountable, (ii) Africa’s relationship with the international community is being redefined[1], (iii) the continent has adopted new technologies that are creating new opportunities for business and political accountability, (iv) Africa now has a new generation of policymakers, activists and business leaders, (v) pan-African investment funds are becoming a reality (Africa Finance Corporation, Lagos, Blakeney Management, London; Pamodzi Investment Holdings, South Africa). The emergence of a middle-class is boosting goods consumption and that is translated in the multiplication of supermarkets and increasing imports of goods.

However, these positive developments benefit only a small portion of the fast-growing population. Progress seems to have been achieved on the surface only. Indeed, while enrolment in schools is on the rise, the quality of education and the relevance of curricula to the needs of our economies are yet to come true and the available work force is yet to be utilized adequately phenomenon of unemployment we face today. According to the “2017 Africa sustainable development report” which tracks progress on the African Union Agenda 2063 and the SDGs, the reduction of poverty and inequality is very slow, “owing to limited decent employment opportunities and weak social insurance mechanisms”. “Approximately 60% of jobs in Africa are considered vulnerable”. Coupled with the lack of social insurance mechanisms, this vulnerability has led to “high rates of poverty among the working class”. “One {in} three workers lived in extreme poverty in 2015”. The most affected portion is the youth and women, with 32.1% and 35.1% unemployment respectively. The trend has been observed for almost two decades now and poses a serious challenge to the advancement of Africa.

Insecurity and climate change

In West Africa for instance, l recall that the UN Security Council raised the alarm already in 2003 and 2005 when it described youth unemployment, and I would add underemployment/qualityless employment, as « a perennial source of instability » and subsequently called for « lasting solutions to the problem of youth unemployment, in order to prevent the recruitment of such youth by illegal armed groups ». My Office, the UN Office for West Africa and Sahel (UNOWAS) followed it up with two issue papers in 2005 and 2006, the recommendations of which have unfortunately hardly been implemented. Today, a number of African countries are faced with competing priorities as a result of a deteriorated security situation and new challenges that further strain the economy and weaken state capability to handle the root causes of instability. All attention is geared towards addressing urgencies rather than adopting a policy of prevention.

The security challenges include: (i) impact of climate change with its attendant farmers-herders deadly clashes, (ii) terrorism and violent extremism, (iii) highly disputed elections, (iv) piracy and armed robbery at sea, (v) drug and human trafficking as well as trafficking in counterfeit medicines, (vi) chronic political instability in the DRC, the CAR and South Sudan particularly and (vii) threat to state unity in some cases.

Let me at this juncture dwell on climate change and its impact on security. Climate change, which directly affects the people and their livelihoods, has become a fundamental threat to stability in Africa. So are the major droughts this year in southern Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region south of the Sahara. This is the result of a gradual degradation of the environment. Other significant consequences of climate change are the advancement of the desert and the drying up of sources of life such as rivers and lakes. A case in point is the Lake Chad, which has lost 90% of its waters over the past fifty years. The example of the Lake Chad, once the hub of the region’s economy, speaks volume. A quick analysis shows that the regions affected by climate change are also conflict-prone. First, the Lake Chad Basin area and the Sahel are prey to all kinds of transnational crimes and terrorism. Second, areas affected by farmers-herders deadly clashes. Countries and people face these conflicts at huge costs, namely loss of lives and property, destruction of infrastructure (schools, roads, bridges et cetera).

Insecurity slows down the gains of the past years as it distracts governments from the implementation of their development plans. Indeed, all the affected countries redirected the budgets initially earmarked for development to security. A country like Chad that has so far been able to secure its borders and even help out other countries, is now suffering a serious economic crisis that in turn threatens stabilization not only of the country but also of the leadership. Niger is now devoting nearly 10% of its GDP to military expenditures at the expense of investing in socio economic development. Insecurity also slows down progress in the sense that the affected countries need to reconstruct and rehabilitate infrastructure and people (psychologic assistance). On a positive note steps are underway to reverse the impact of climate change, for instance, by recharging of the Lake Chad through bringing in water from the River Ubangi. The LCBC is working on this project in close collaboration with AU/NEPAD, the World Bank, the AfDB and China.

Population explosion-challenges of the basic social services and infrastructure

If these climatic perils were not sufficient, sub-Saharan Africa, now and for the remainder of this century, is experiencing a huge demographic explosion. Being the most rapidly growing part of the world, sub-Saharan Africa’s one billion people will surge in the next 50 years to two billion and three billion and reach an estimated 3.7 billion in 2100, right behind Asia’s four billion by then. Based on well-regarded UN Population Division estimates, Nigeria will become the third most populated nation in the world, after India and China. Tanzania, now a mere 75 million people, will soar to 340 million and become the fifth largest country in the world. The Democratic Republic of Congo will hold 212 million and be the eighth largest polity, bigger a that time than Brazil.

Population growth per se is welcome as it is also a factor of economic growth. In case of Africa, so far, it is rather a problem because the population grows faster than the economy and countries cannot cope with the increasing demands for basic social services such as water, sanitation, education, and health. Although urbanization is needed for the transformation of African economies, its rapid pace adds to the stress on the economy; hence the need to manage it properly.

For instance with Lagos and Kinshasa becoming larger and more congested than Cairo and Mexico City, but with much poorer sanitation, fewer roads, serious electricity shortages and a paucity of jobs. Overall, cities will mushroom in sub-Saharan Africa and rural areas will decline from 50 percent of the total today to 25 per cent of the population in 2100. Where will the food to feed these new millions come from? How will they be governed? Are current methods of political management adequate? Most of all, can Africa, like Asia, realize a demographic dividend if educational resources are sparse and new employment possibilities cannot keep pace with population growth?

Human capital development

Education is another Achilles heel. Although most Africans have access to primary school, only 70 percent or so, and more boys than girls progress into secondary school. Only about 30 percent of girls finish secondary school, and there are places in sub-Saharan African universities for only six percent of eligible students. Slowing fertility rates depend in large part on the education of girls through secondary school. That advance is happening too slowly, and, with faltering economies, may further diminish. Although the number of enrolled children is on the rise, the quality and content of the education and the curricula leave something to be desired. To harness the demographic dividend, Africa needs not only a vast educational upsurge, but particularly a rise of technical education or professional education such as is offered in institutions of higher learning such as the University of Professional Studies.

Good governance

Although much improved, governance and leadership in most of the sub-Saharan African countries may be insufficiently robust to cope with these and other challenges. Today, all of sub-Saharan Africa struggles to educate and care for its citizens and, critically, to create formal and informal livelihood mechanisms. The middle class is demanding better governance and achieving breakthroughs in some places, but there are many countries on our continent where the rule of law is still uncertain and corruption overwhelming. And those in power or their supporters can often still act with impunity and reign terror on those perceived to be opposed to them.

Civic responsibility

          The loss of public spiritedness among our youth also contributes to slowing down progress in Africa. A number of reasons explain this, including particularly the devastation of education following the structural adjustment programmes in the mid to end of the 1980s and the misunderstanding of the democratic transitions of the 1990s. We begun to see: (i) the defiance of social values and breach of taboos such that “it became forbidden to forbid anything”; freedom as license, vigilantism, disobedience and breach of law and order; (ii) relinquishment by parents of their responsibilities as primary teachers to their children. As a result, the respect for the law and institutions begun to wane, rights were emphasis whereas obligations were forgotten if not rejected. Schooling was no more a place for learning and was driven more by the lure of material gain. This state of affairs has proved damaging to the cultivation of civic responsibility in the citizenry and the participation of the youth in the construction of their countries has suffered from that. African countries must take a number of initiatives for the restoration of civic education, patriotism and pan African vision, a love of their country and their Continent, in African youth.

The road ahead is difficult, marred by potholes. However, there is increased awareness and a great deal of political will to tackle these challenges. Some noteworthy initiatives are ongoing at regional and global levels.

While Africa is clearly on the right track, there is still some way to go. I see five main areas where African countries need to achieve greater progress in order to consolidate their strides on the theme of Africa Rising:

  • Maintaining macroeconomic stability and accelerating structural reform

As the continent enters the "second phase of adjustment", the emphasis must be to maintain economic stability and to reinforce the implementation of structural policies that will make the economies more flexible, encourage diversification through value addition to raw materials and industrialization, to reduce their vulnerability to exogenous shocks. These include further reforms in the areas of public enterprise activity, the labor markets, and the trade regime. Governments must also ensure that public services--including transportation networks, electricity, water, and telecommunications, but also health services and jobs skills education--are provided in a reliable and cost-efficient fashion.

  • Ensuring economic security

Establishing the right framework for economic activity addresses the second requirement of policy, namely, removing the sense of uncertainty that still plagues economic decision-making in most of Africa. The direction and orientation of future policy must be beyond question. This requires the creation of a strong national capacity for policy formulation, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. Moreover, the transparency, predictability, and impartiality of the regulatory and legal systems must be guaranteed. This goes well beyond the respect of private property rights and the enforcement of commercial contracts. It also involves the elimination of arbitrariness, special privileges, and ad-hoc exemptions, even where these are intended to encourage investment.

  • Reforming financial sectors

It has been generally agreed that the liberal movement of capital is beneficial to the world economy and to African economies as well. However, rising capital flows place additional burdens on banking regulation and supervision, and requires more flexible financial structures. This aspect of globalization confronts developing countries with a new challenge--to accelerate the development and liberalization of their financial markets and to enhance the ability of their financial institutions to respond to the changing international environment. Much remains to be done regarding the reform and strengthen Africa's financial systems, many of which are weak and poorly managed.

  • Achieving good governance

National authorities should spare no efforts to tackle corruption and inefficiency and to enhance accountability in government. This means reducing the scope of distortionary rent-seeking activities; eliminating wasteful or unproductive uses of public funds; and providing the necessary domestic security. Many African countries will also have to undertake a comprehensive reform of the civil service, aimed at reducing its size while enhancing its efficiency. In short, governments must create confidence in their role as a valued and trusted partner of private economic agents.

  • A partnership with civil society

Finally, African governments will need to actively encourage the participation of civil society in the debate on economic policy and to seek the broad support of the population for the adjustment that are needed. To this end, governments will need to pursue a more active information policy, explaining the objectives of policies integration and soliciting the input of those whom the policies are intended to benefit.

  • Regional Integration

With closer economic integration, each country has an interest in ensuring that appropriate policies are followed in its partner countries. This could be achieved by coordinating the relevant national policies within a regional context. Throughout the continent, African governments are coming together to coordinate components of their policies, and virtually all countries are now members of one regional organization or the other. Efficient regional cooperation allows the economies of Africa to overcome the disadvantages of their relatively small size and, by opening access to larger markets, to realize economies of scale.

The obligations of membership in some of these organizations also make it easier for each individual country to achieve further progress in regulatory and judicial reform as is the case in the CFA franc zone; to rationalize payments facilities and to relax restrictions on capital transactions and investment flows as in the ECOWAS Cross-Border Initiative; and to develop mutual economic infrastructure as in the SADC where efforts are underway. Enhancing the trade links among themselves naturally also strengthens their ability to participate in trade on a global scale, and could lead toward further progress in the direction of non-discriminatory multilateral trade liberalization.

The challenge for the future will be to ensure that these regional organizations are perceived as effective vehicles for the integration of African countries into the world economy, providing mutual support to their members in their reform efforts. They should not be considered as defensive mechanisms, intended to ward off the "negative" aspects of globalization. Common regional objectives should be set in terms of international best practices. And the regional organizations should seek to push through reforms in the areas of the legal and regulatory frameworks, financial sector restructuring, labor and investment code reform, and exchange and trade liberalization that seek to reach international standards as quickly as possible. The pace of progress should be what is feasible, not what is comfortable for the slowest member.

However, looking at the current challenges facing Africa, what I just said Africa should do would be a mere wish list or rather incantations if those challenges are not taken care of and with a sense of urgency.

Indeed, the nexus between security and development is widely acknowledged and steps are being taken to work in this direction. In 2015, the AU and the UN adopted Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) respectively, in order to ensure a comprehensive and forward-looking approach to the issues. A particular attention is given to the youth. Also, both agendas are based on two main principles: (i) African solutions to African problems and (ii) partnership between the AU and the UN particularly. In the same vein, the UN and World Bank published a study in September 2017 “Pathways for peace: Inclusive approaches to preventing violent conflict”, which lays the ground for a “closer collaboration to deliver at the country level”  and various levels the benefits of development. It is envisaged that the World Bank and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) will intensify collaboration with countries to implement the SDGs through respective national development plans.

Mr. Chairperson/ Ladies and Gentlemen

Please permit me to unequivocally state that Africa’s time has come. But sustenance of the current good tidings is essential. Africa’s youths represent the future of the continent. By establishing programmes that focus on the intellectual development and health improvement of young Africans, the continent will make an investment in its future. Africa has true potential for future economic growth if the continent’s nations invest in its young population, providing them with the tools they need to be successful in a global economy.

What should Africa do?

With 70% of Africa's population under the age of 30, the continent is presented with a greater opportunity and, possibly, a great challenge if the opportunities are not taken. Young Africans today are taking actions that not only have an immediate impact but will also determine the future of the continent for decades to come.

Africa is not short of programmes, projects, policies. What needs to be done is already known. What is lacking is implementation; timely and effective implementation of policies and programmes.

When one talks of Africa rising, what come to mind first are economy, finance, and development. Now, a number of studies show that young Africans get involved in criminal and terrorist activities or are victims of criminal networks, out of despair. Therefore, the question to be answered is: what kind of youth does Africa need to get out the woods?  We want youth that is dynamic, educated proud of their countries and continent and happy to stay at home and respectful of the laws of the land. To this end, a lot needs to be done to offer the needful and also to “sanitize” those who find themselves in the mode to want to cut corners or simply want to get reach quickly by any means.

The African youth is drastically changing roles. As opportunities are subsumed in the changing dynamics of the economies, so are the challenges – especially of employability and entrepreneurship. The strength of any society is within the strength and resolve of its youth - what investment are young people making in our continent today and how are our leaders mainstreaming them into the governance and administrative structure to negotiate continued prosperity for their generation?

Equipping the Youth to renegotiate Africa

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us and the rate at which technology is advancing, it is critical that we have a sufficiently educated and skilled workforce to be able to drive Africa in this direction. There is currently a mismatch between industry demands and the education curriculum. Educational institutions need to update their curricula to align with the direction in which the world and Africa are going. If we ignore this, our young people will have irrelevant qualifications that the continent will be unable to benefit from. We need to give relevant education to empower and equip African youths to be in a position to renegotiate a better spot for Africa in the global world.

Local solutions must be sought for local challenges, but for this to happen, we need to encourage and cultivate innovation among our youth. It is encouraging to note that there are pockets of this already taking place across the continent, where we can see uptake and use of locally-designed technology. More of these need to happen across the board, covering the different sectors of our economies, as Africa still lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to introducing innovative technology. Human development is about creating opportunities and building a people's ability to innovate and be entrepreneurial. Significant investment needs to go towards this. With the growth of the continent, it only makes sense for us to industrialize in order to be less reliant on importing products for consumption from outside the continent. And to industrialize, the youth must be equipped with the necessary job skills and technological know-how to drive the process.

The youths themselves must intentionally create a culture that encourages the building and shaping of the Africa that they want. The change they want begins with them coming together and developing their own culture and value system for thinking, planning, implementation, accountability, integrity, and collaboration. It is up to the African youth to step up shape the narrative of our continent.

If countries are to succeed in achieving the SDGs, leaving no one behind along the way, governments must seek out an active and substantive engagement of young women and men from diverse backgrounds in national-level planning, implementation, and monitoring. The overall success of the SDGs depends on youth engagement because young people are:

  1. Critical thinkers: Part of being young involves making sense of personal experiences and asking questions about the world around you. Youths have the capacity to identify and challenge existing power structures and barriers to change and to expose contradictions and biases.
  1. Change-makers: Young people also have the power to act and mobilize others. Youth activism is on the rise the world over, bolstered by broader connectivity and access to social media; though we know there can be negative effects.
  1. Innovators: Young people have displayed remarkable talent and skill in developing and exposing African culture through the film and music industries, with far reaching influence. Today, Nollywood is the world's second-largest cinematographic power in terms of the number of films since 2009, with a regular audience of an estimated at 150 million viewers. Also growing in the industry is Ghana and Kenya amongst others. Additionally, the African fashion industry is successfully promoting and cultivating African and African-inspired design talent on the continent and the world stage.
  1. Communicators: Outside the international development sector, too few people are aware that world leaders have come to a historic, far-reaching agreement to eradicate poverty by 2030. Young people can be partners in communicating the agenda to their peers and communities at the local level, as well as across countries and regions.
  1. Leaders: When young people are empowered with the knowledge of their rights and supported to develop leadership skills, they can drive change in their communities and countries. Youth-led organizations and networks, in particular, should be supported and strengthened, because they contribute to the development of civic responsibility and leadership skills among young people, especially marginalized youth. ​

Mr. Chairperson/Ladies and Gentlemen

In addition, the youths could take an active part in addressing international issues having to do with arms trade treaty, migration and mediation to name a few, in their respective roles as students, student leaders, workers or volunteers.

These issues are not esoteric. They have a link to peace and security, a key condition for attaining sustainable development and creating prosperity for all.

In conclusion, I would like to underline that the main issue is not to debate whether or not Africa is rising. What matters is realizing that no matter how much progress has been made, there is still the need to improve the situation, build upon achievements and to address the many aspirations of the youth who form the bulk of the African population. Again, it is an effort which can only be done collaboratively with all stakeholders. Putting it together, there is the need to avoid situations where the youth resort to violence to address issues or allow their frustrations to be exploited by agitators and those who promote violence instead of dialogue and mediation in the resolution of political and social disputes at the local, national, regional, and continental levels.

It won’t be long for a democratic Africa to put its youths at the epicenter of its calculations. The youth hold the ace. They can bring about the paradigm shift through a combination of thinking, planning and demonstrating a better capacity than previous generations, to effectively implement and execute plans to achieve set targets at national, regional and continental levels.

The moment is now to change the narrative of Africa being a rich continent of poor people. With a well-educated, skilled and modern technology compliant, patriotic and pan African oriented youth, Africa will truly emerge. The time is now to build a peaceful, secure, democratic and prosperous Africa for all; a continent in which no one is left behind. Such is the vision of the UN Agenda 2030 and the vision of the AU Agenda 2063. Africa is indeed rising!

Thank you for your kind attention

 

 

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