Ethiopia: Leaders arrive for AU Summit to discuss youth progress

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African leaders are arriving in Addis Ababa, the venue of the 28th Heads of State Assembly, where the discussions about the future of the African youth is expected to take place amid concerns the radicalization of the youth and the flight of Africa’s best trained experts pose risks.

The African leaders are due to deliberate on measures that would be taken throughout this year to improve the quality of life for the continent’s youthful population.

The African Union (AU) has expressed concerns the progress of the African youth has been dogged by the laws which discriminate against the young people in the decision-making process and leadership.

“We are having mixed feelings from Africa’s ability to harness and harvest the youth dividend,” warned AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Aisha Abdullahi.

This year's Summit, which officially opens on 30 January, is expected to elect the new Chairman of the Summit, the organisation's highest decision-making body, the Chairperson of the AU Commission and eight Commissioners.

The Summit will also discuss the re-admission of Morocco as an AU member and receive a new report on steps required to transform the AU Secretariat as proposed by a team of experts selected during the last Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

While the leaders have dedicated discussions on the growth of the youthful population and how to ensure that the increasing number of young people do not threaten the political stability, worries remain over cultural biases against the youth and the systems of political exclusion in most countries.

Of particular concern to the AU is the use of restrictive laws to crackdown on free expression through the Internet and the flight of the continent’s best educated to other regions of the world.

“There are huge gaps between the norms we have adopted to govern the development of our youth and the instruments currently being applied to deal with the affairs of the youth,” Abdullahi said.

In their review of the status of the youth progress in Africa, the African leaders are expected to discuss and receive briefing on what experts call a worrying trend in participation of the youth in politics.

Africa’s youngest population, especially the women, have been seen to shy away from participating in elections and hardly take an interest in public affairs. They are unlikely to participate in voting during elections, which further dims their chance of contributing to the progress in democracy.

In order to improve the environment that would promote the participation, the AU has strongly urged its leaders to push for the ratification of all treaties and protocols dealing with democracy—also known as shared values—good governance and ethics in political leadership to advance the youth agenda.

The AU wants attention paid on designing state policies that address special challenges facing the young women of Africa in order to prepare them to benefit from their youth.

“The theme of harnessing the youth dividend was adopted in 2016 on the 10th anniversary of the African Youth Charter. We have tried to ensure that the term dividend, which is an economic term, is used in this framework, to symbolise the benefits that we could all share from the youth participation,” said Martial De-Paul Ikounga, the AU Commissioner for Science and Technology.

The AU Commissioner said the leaders of the continental body would be discussing the totality of the benefits that could be obtained from the greater participation of the African youth in the economy.

“We are doing this under four pillars - health, education, job-creation and skills development. We also feel that human rights, which are mandatory to good governance, also become part of this debate.”

The African leaders are expected to continue the yearlong discussions on the theme of youth empowerment during their second regular Summit this year.

The continental leaders have also agreed to make the youth agenda the key theme during the forthcoming Summit with the European Union leaders to be held in Abidjan, the AU said.

“We are receiving serious commitments on this issue from our main partners. This is because we need to stop brain drain,” Commissioner De-Paul Ikuonga told reporters Saturday.

In order to ensure success, the AU said it would pursue goals in youth training and encourage governments to make sure that technical education is viewed differently from the way it is treated currently, an issue which would also enable the youth to benefit from jobs.

“Everything that we are discussing here starts from the bottom of the pyramid. We want the leaders of our continent to view the employment potential of the technical education field and how it impacts every sector of the economy so that policies can be prepared to address the issues,” the AU official said.
-0- PANA AO/MA 28Jan2017

28 january 2017 19:00:38




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