African governments urged to leverage technology to grow economies, boost youth development

October 26, 2021 By 0 Comments

Mr. Charles Abani, coordinator of the UN System in Ghana, speaking at the summit

African governments have been urged to leverage digital technology to grow the economies of their countries, improve the conditions of their peoples, and boost youth development.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo gave the advice in his key-note address at the three-day YouthConnekt Africa Summit 2021, which began in Accra last Wednesday, and will end today.

He was represented by the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.

President Akufo-Addo underlined the need for African governments to create an enabling environment to empower youth and tackle massive youth unemployment.

He also called for investment in human resources through diversified training in technical and vocational education.

Doing so, he said, would allow them to explore the different opportunities the respective African economies offer for self-development and poverty reduction.

“Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb, threatening social peace and cohesion, therefore Africa must pay maximum attention to job creation,” the president stated, noting that African youth had the talents and abilities to develop and would do everything they could to improve their conditions.

The YouthConnekt Africa Summit is an annual platform that connects youth from across Africa and beyond with policy influencers, political leaders, public/private and development sector institutions to engage, discuss, design and develop youth empowerment efforts at the continental level.

It creates a platform to empower youth to pursue entrepreneurship, innovation, network and trade among themselves towards the transformation of African economies.

“Africa Beyond Aid: Positioning the Youth for the Post Covid Economy and AfCFTA Opportunities” is the theme chosen for the three-day event, starting at the Accra International Conference Centre.

The summit, first held in Kigali, Rwanda, in 2012, provides a platform for all partners involved in youth development and empowerment to create synergy around policies, programs and partnerships connecting youth for continental transformation.

This year’s event, the fourth edition, is organized by the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Authority, in conjunction with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and attracted more than 2,000 participants from across Africa and  beyond, including youth groups, youth and sport ministers, government officials, academia, development partners, private sector and civil society representatives, as well as innovators and incubator labs.

In his welcome address, Mr Mustapha Ussif, Ghana’s Minister of Youth and Sports, said the youth is a key factor for change and development, therefore it was imperative to involve them in all development initiatives to accelerate economic growth.

Speaking earlier, Ms Oulie Keita, the Executive Director of YouthConnekt Africa Hub, said the summit provided a platform for young people to exchange ideas and offer homegrown solutions to African challenges.

Keita said the YouthConnekt Africa initiative, launched in 2012 in Kigali, Rwanda, was now operational in 24 African countries.

The YouthConnekt Africa Summit seeks to create a platform for a larger number of young people from all over the continent to learn and engage in YouthConnekt Africa’s youth development program.

In March 2018, forty-four African heads of state gathered in Kigali, Rwanda to sign the framework for the AfCFTA to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspeople and investments. In current changing global economic outlook with hike in tariffs and protectionism, AfCFTA provides opportunities to African nations to look inward and increase access to regional markets. Considering the importance and impact of AfCFTA on regional economies, phenomenal potential for intra-continental trade, and opportunities to access new markets, the YCA plan to engage, encourage, and connect 226 million young African as a biggest stakeholder to exploit the trade opportunities, enhance trade capacities, gain news skills to contribute to sustainable trade development.

This year’s event, hosted by the Government of the Republic of Ghana, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), provided a strategic platform for all partners involved in youth development to synergize around policies, programs and partnerships that position African youth to cater to the AfCFTA and advance regional integration.

By Martin-Luther C. King