Pretoria – Africa needs to boost investment in its youth by promoting transformative and inclusive development agendas aimed at recognising the efforts in entrepreneurship and innovation.
This was the emphasis at the opening of 30th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Executive Council on Wednesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The opening session was attended by AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, AU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, AU Commissioner Abdullah Hamok, acting Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), officials and invited guests.
Addressing the session under the theme “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth,” Dlamini Zuma said that for Africa to succeed in its integrated and inclusive development agenda “it requires that we revive and strengthen the spirit of Pan Africanism, unity and solidarity to successfully steer our way towards agenda 2063”.
To meet the first target in Agenda 2063 of commencing the Continental Free Trade Area by the end of 2017, Dlamini Zuma stressed the need to unlock the potential, the energy, the creativity and the talent of Africa’s young men and women.
She said that this can be achieved only through the African Skills revolution, by creating jobs and economic opportunities, through diversification, agricultural modernisation and industrialisation so that Africa’s youth can be the drivers of agenda 2063.
Dlamini Zuma also expressed the need to work on the free movement of people, saying that “it will unlock opportunities for intra-African trade, studies, business and tourism”.
“Whatever we do at this summit, we must ensure that we preserve the precious and principled unity of this continent and our union.”
In his opening remarks, Hamok noted that unlike other regions of the world, the proportion of youth in Africa’s total population was rising.
He said this growth presented great opportunities as it relates to the continent’s demographic dividend as well as challenges derived from the risks associated with soaring rates of youth unemployment.
He noted that the continent needs to look inward for opportunities to boost trade, develop regional value chains and drive structural transformation, before he vowed to work with the AU and its member states in addressing challenges that the continent is facing.
The Executive Council meeting is the second of three statutory meetings to be held under the on-going 28th Summit of the African Union.
The first meeting was that of the Permanent Representatives Committee which ended Tuesday. The final meeting of the summit, which will include Heads of State and Government, will take place from Monday.
For three days, the Ministers of External Affairs and other ministers or authorities designated by the governments of AU Member States will deliberate on the different reports of the Specialized Technical Committee (STCs) ministerial meetings organised by the AU Commission during the last six months. They will also adopt the report of the Permanent Representatives Committee.
The Executive Council will prepare the agenda of the AU Summit with appropriate recommendations for consideration by the Heads of State.