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Akufo-Addo: We must invest in youth to accelerate Africa’s economic growth

President Akufo-Addo has underscored the need for African governments to create a conducive environment to empower the youth and tackle mass youth unemployment

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged African governments to invest in the youth towards accelerating the socio-economic development of the continent following the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He called for investment in human resource through the provision of diversified training in technical and vocational education.

That, he said, would enable them to explore the various opportunities provided by respective African economies for self-development and alleviation of poverty.

“Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb, which threatens social peace and cohesion therefore Africa must pay maximum attention to job creation,” the president stressed.

President Akufo-Addo made the remarks in a keynote address delivered on his behalf by Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia at the opening ceremony of the fourth edition of YouthConnekt Africa Summit in Accra on Wednesday (20 October).

He said the African youth had the talents and capabilities to develop and would employ anything to improve their circumstances.

The president entreated African governments to leverage digital technology to improve the circumstances of their peoples as the world was in the era of the fourth industrial revolution, where economies of countries thrive on technology.

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 accelerate youth empowerment efforts at the continental level.

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

The summit, first held in Kigali, Rwanda in 2012, provides a platform for all partners involved in youth development and empowerment to synergise around policies, programmes and partnerships that connect the youth for continental transformation.

This year’s event, the fourth edition, is hosted by the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Youth and Sports and National Youth Authority, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) attracted over 2,000 participants across Africa and beyond.

The event is being attended by youth groups, Ministers of Youth and Sports, government officials, academia, development partners, private sector and civil society representatives, as well as innovators and incubator labs, to address the most pressing youth demands within the post-COVID-19 pandemic period.

The three-day event is under the theme: “Africa Beyond Aid: Positioning the Youth for the post-COVID Economy and AfCFTA Opportunities.”

The summit will offer a combination of high-level plenaries, panel discussions, keynote speeches, small group workshops, presentations, project pitching, and exhibitions, as well as cultural events, off-site activities and learning visits.

In his welcome address, Mustapha Ussif, the Minister of Youth and Sports, said the youth were a key agent of change and development therefore it was imperative to involve them in all development initiatives to accelerate economic growth.

He underscored the need to support the youth and provide them with robust programmes to enable them to obtain employable skills and sustainable jobs.

He believed that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) programme provide an opportunity for the youth to achieve their potentials and thus encouraged African youth to trade among themselves.

Oulie Keita, the executive director of YouthConnekt Africa Hub, on her part, said the summit provided the platform for the youth to share ideas and proffer home-grown solutions to African challenges.

She said the YouthConnekt Africa initiative was launched in 2012 in Kigali, Rwanda, and is currently operational in 24 African nations.

It is aimed at increasing opportunities for the youth in terms of equipping them with entrepreneurial skills and expertise towards inclusive socio-economic development and achieving the aspirations of the Africa Youth Charter, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2063 Africa Union Agenda.

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