Young people in Africa have been recognised as an asset rather than a problem by world leaders who also committed to investing in projects that would provide them with jobs and opportunities.
Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, who was one of the African heads of state present at the investment roundtable for young people in Africa, said the recently signed African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement would expand opportunities for the youth.
‘‘Bigger markets, free movement of people and the elimination of internal trade will soon be reality on our continent,’‘ Kagame said.For a long time, governments across the world have been giving aid to Africa. It's now time to convert that aid to trade by investing in Africa's growth.
Other African leaders who were scheduled to speak at the event held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly were Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Ghana’s Nana-Akufo Addo, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and Sierra Leone’s Julius Maada Bio.
Africa’s youth question
By 2030, there will be about 1.3 billion 15 to 24 year olds on the planet, some 100 million more than in 2015.
While 10-12 million youth enter the workforce each year, only 3 million jobs are created annually, fuelling unemployment and economic frustration for many young people.
Several initiatives are being implemented by institutions like the United Nations, African Union, African Development Bank and the UK’s Department for International Development, to generate more job opportunities for the youth.
Entrepreneurs from the continent, who are currently participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders shared their experiences and proposed solutions to the world leaders that included the United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates.
‘‘Africa has a lot of resources, but we have to be sure that we can exploit them in a sustainable way,’‘ said Marie Josee Houenou from Ivory Coast.
‘‘For a long time, governments across the world have been giving aid to Africa. It’s now time to convert that aid to trade by investing in Africa’s growth,’‘ Auxence Muhigwa from Democratic Republic of Congo.
‘‘While Africa is the future, it is important to note that young people are not the future. Young people are now,’‘ said Shaban Senyange from Uganda.