The 2021 Youth Connekt Summit closed with a resounding call to ensure that, formulation and implementation of policies are more inclusive and representative of Africa’s largest population – young people. Eminent panellists, including youth leaders from various sectors across the continent, pointed out that for Africa to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis and leapfrog its socio-economic trajectory, policies that support the emerging opportunities through the AfCFTA must be reflective of the needs and contexts of young people.
H.E. Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana acknowledged the role of young people and their contribution towards building stronger African economies, he noted “within the continent, there is much to offer, and African youth are an inspiration as demonstrated through the illustrious stories of impact experienced by their communities. The AfCFTA presents enormous opportunities, it is your knowledge, creativity that will contribute significantly to its realization.”
The youth challenged African leaders to move beyond commitments to implementation in a deliberate way that natures the potential of young people, enabling them to harness their creativity, innovation, and unique entrepreneurship spirit, for the continent’s prosperity.
Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP), expressed confidence that the One African Market will transform the continent and break those vicious cycles of povertythat it will take collaborating young people to succeed. “Through our collective resolve to move the continent to a place of empowered lives – for people and nations, we can truly commence a journey that manifests an Africa Beyond Aid. The Youth Connekt Africa 2021 Summit reminded us that it is possible to change the reality and destiny of this vibrant continent – through engaging with each other in a new way,” she added.
Participants at the 2021 Summit further called for the streamlining regulations that can support the free movement of goods and people, potentially turning trade barriers faced by young people into accelerators of favourable market conditions. In addition, governments, development partners and the private sector were urged to create opportunities to educate young people on how the Free Trade Area works and prepare them to leverage the benefits of AfCFTA.
“We have the most committed, agile generation and this is a major asset to the transformation of our continent. Our youth are a driving force and with concerted efforts of the private sector, civil society, development partners, state agencies, Africa will thrive with the youth taking lead“, noted Hon. Rosemary Mbabazi, Minister of Youth and Culture and Chairperson of YouthConnekt Africa
The Youth Connekt 2021 Summit took place under the auspices of the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Authority (NYA), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Government of the Republic of Rwanda. The unprecedented impact of the pandemic amplified the challenges faced by young people, including access to education and employment opportunities or the decline in business performance and required us to reassess and innovate.
“Today we celebrate and re-enforce the power of young people in helping Africa address its development challenges. The Youth Connekt Africa provides you all with a platform to connect, share and learn from each other. It is a reminder that you are not alone on this journey. The government and private sector stand ready to support you to reach your full potential,” said Hon. Mustapha Ussif, Minister of Youth and Sports.
The 2021 three-day Summit themed “Africa Beyond Aid: Positioning the Youth for the Post-COVID Economy and AfCFTA Opportunities” created a unique space for the Youth of Africa to deliberate and engage with policymakers from Africa and beyond. The discussions explored young people’s place in Africa’s recovery post COVID–19 as the drivers of the emerging socio-economic opportunities.
“Together as Africans, we will continue to do more to address the issues of youth empowerment in the continent. I urge other countries who are yet to establish the YouthConnekt platform to do so, as it provides the perfect vehicle for us to leverage this demographic dividend for the development of the continent.” Oulie Keita, YouthConnekt Africa Hub CEO
The summit unveiled the Youth Connekt Africa Cluster Challenge Award winners for 2021: