Africa can only thrive if young people thrive. Africa’s population is predominantly young, with almost 60% of the population under the age of 25 years.
This population is projected to remain constant in the next 50 years due to the demographic transition that the African region is faced with. This is an untapped resource that has the potential to support Africa’s development.
Undeniably, the COVID-19 global health emergency, as well as its economic and social consequences, have disrupted nearly every aspect of life for all societal groups.
The pandemic poses significant risks for young people, particularly, vulnerable youth in areas such as education, employment, health, among others.
To challenge young people to reflect on the path to achieving the SDG’s and to solidify the youth front to ensure Africa’s development, Youth Advocate Ghana converged over 300 young people across the continent under the fourth African Youth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit.
The Executive Director of Youth Advocates Ghana and convener of the African Youth SDGs Summit, Mr. Emmanuel Ametepey, indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts have presented critical opportunities for meaningful reflections on the true state and sustainability of youth programmes, policies and practices towards the 2030 Agenda.
He noted that structural and socio-cultural barriers, youth unemployment, conflict, gender-based violence, teenage pregnancies, limited higher education and few participatory opportunities; continue to hinder the progress of the African youth, limiting their abilities to effectively contribute to sustainable continental development. Mr. Ametepey indicated that the purpose of the African Youth SDGs Summit is to amplify and recommit to the roles of young people toward achieving the 2030 goals, and more importantly, to remind ourselves of the work we need to do to enable youth impact.
“We will continue to identify, recognise and unearth youth-led initiatives for sustainable development with the hope that by 2030, we can speak of how we made the world and continent better through the SDGs,” he said.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ghana, Mr. Charles Abani, stated that young people serve as key agents for social change, economic growth, technological advancement and innovation, and play a critical role in Africa’s growth and development.
He stated that, Africa could thrive if young people thrived in their various fields of endeavours. The COVID-19 global health emergency has created a number of challenges which have disrupted many aspects of life and posed significant risks to young people, particularly, vulnerable youth.
He said these risks were in the areas of education, employment and health. In that regard, he observed that there was the need to invest and build the capacities of the youth and also provide them with conducive environments where they could make informed choices. “I call on governments at the highest level, public and private sector partners, and UN agencies to invest in the youth in order to harness their potentials.
Let us provide meaningful platforms for their engagements in political and other decision-making processes that affect them, the countries they live in and the continent as a whole”, he urged.
Stakeholders at the summit unpacked the theme for the occasion – ‘Youth Resilience in Covid-19 era: Pathways to accelerate actions towards achieving SDGs’ – and considered the following as ways to build youth resilience post-covid-19:
- Strengthen the central voice of young people into the value chain of sustainable development.
- Youth must be part of the pursuit of workable solutions to accelerated implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063.
- Institutionalise the multi-stakeholder SDG advisory bodies to include young people to encourage and promote effective public-private and civil society partnership.
- Build on partnership experience for the implementation of the SDGs that can act as accelerated action.
- Engage young people in the development of societal resilience.
- Engage the youth in policy-making to empower them.
Participants at the summit affirmed the timeliness of this summit and were charged to forge forward to build back better from COVID-19 effects to championing the Sustainable Development Goals across the continent.
“This is a Summit; I am happy to have attended. It has built my knowledge, connected me to like minds and built my resilience to go out there and work towards the achievement of the SDG’s and the realization of the Agenda 2063. I am very happy I attended because I have greatly benefitted”, Dennis Nyamalo, a participant noted.
The three-day continental summit featured various plenary sessions, open dialogues, workshops and youth engagements to build the capacities of young people and speakers from all over the world and from varied backgrounds.
The Summit gathered high level persons, ambassadors and the diplomatic corps. They include: The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia – Dr. Catherine Sozi; United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Africa – Dr. Vera Songwe; Planned Parenthood Federation African Regional Office Representative to the African Union and UNECA – Sam Ntelamo; the State Minister of Planning and Development of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia – Mrs. Tirumar Abate; Regional Director, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Mr. Marcel Akpovo; the Director of the United Nations Association of Ethiopia, and National Coordinator, United Nations International Trade Center – Samuel Fekade.