Ghana marked the AU’s 48th anniversary with a three day event at the Accra International Conference Center (AICC). I bring you proceedings of Day one’s event- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in partnership with Vision Care Network International put this event together with the theme: “YOUTH DIALOGUE ON AFRICA-THE GREAT CONVERSATION.”
Dr. Sodzi Sodzi Tettey- Gen. Secretary Ghana Medical Association, Chaired the Youth Dialogue. In his opening remarks he mentioned how delighted he was to be here with young Africans with a burning desire to drive change on the continent. He was marveled by the number of young people he saw queuing at embassies for visas to leave the country- he said we could make it right on home soil. Africa is plagued with lots of challenges; poverty, diseases, conflicts, political instability amongst others. In all these- he advised young ones to see it as window of opportunities to confront and solve these problems; he wished all a fruitful dialogue for a better Africa.
Mr. Freeheart Dela Tsey, the Chairman of the AU planning committee and Deputy Director in charge of AU at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration was equally grateful and stated the AU’s support for youth on the continent to promote Africa’s growth. He mentioned the need to invest time and resources significantly to promote youth development in Africa. He asked the youth of our dear continent to match up to the task- “…To whom much is given, much is expected”- he ended.
Hon. Stephen Ackah- MP for Suame and Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Youth and Sports welcomed all present especially young Africans from beyond the shores of Ghana. He said Africa is a young continent and of course –has threats and opportunities, but can soar and make strives if determined. He defined who a youth is a stage between childhood and adulthood. The UN defines a youth as a person between ages 15-24 and 15-35 according to the AU. Hon. Ackah mentioned there were many challenges with most sectors especially Public Sector- where? Our Educational system or structure- Its quality and comprehensiveness- especially at the tertiary level, skills and practical training to gain and put the experience gained to use for national development. He noted many young people all over the continent were easily manipulated- politically and were wrongly exposed to drugs and illegal arms. Despite these challenges youth are creative and can effectively contribute by being part of policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation for the continents own development. He was concerned about the many documents and policies that had been developed and are wasting away on shelves –we need to implement. He asked all to develop interest in policies and grab copies, esp. youth policies, so as to hold government accountable. He charged youth leaders to work closely and refuse political influence and manipulation fro they result in nothing beneficial, “mainstreaming the youth-is a sure way”.
Ishmael Kwasi Selassie Fianu, PPAG Programmes Officer and lead facilitator of the Event mentioned young people had had enough of the talk- “there’s a need to dialogue and take action to influence policy makers”. The issues group sessions addressed was:
- Youth Education and Employment.
- African Unity.
- Social Accountability.
- Governance and Youth.
- Africa and the West.
In their remarks at the end of the event they all stressed on responsibility and the need for positive attitude among youth, and that the greatest tragedy that can ever happen is to let resources go untapped. They advised young people synergize to better the continent and the world as a whole. “Let’s prepare ourselves for the future by building our capacity in ICT and use it positively for continental and global growth.”… “And by our little contributions we can make a difference and make Africa a better place”.
I would conclude by asking…. “What do you think Africa Union can do more for youth on the continent?”