November is Africa Youth Month and this year’s theme is Youth Voices, Actions and Engagement: Building A Better Africa, a testament to the work of young people highlighted by their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic touched every corner of the world in 2020 and as Africa grappled with real challenges further intensified by the pandemic, its’ youth rose to the occasion.
Her Excellency Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, commissioner of Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union (AU) Commission, says 75% of all Africans are under age 35 and most first responders during the pandemic are part of the youth population. She says young Africans spearheaded innovation, sensitization, community engagement and development and political accountability during this period.
“African youth have historically demonstrated their passion for change and development offering innovative solutions to Africa’s age-old problems. We celebrate their voices, actions and engagement as we strive to build back a better continent in the aftermath of the pandemic. Across the continent there are several shining beacons of youth resilience and ingenuity and wherever you look, regardless of sector, young Africans are striving for sustenance, self-actualization and collective prosperity,” she says.
According to the professor, she saw youth-led accountability with young Africans holding their duty bearers accountable and taking up their civic responsibility which is the spirit requisite for an Africa whose development is people-driven, as aspired by the Agenda 2063 blueprint. She says the African Youth Charter, African Plan of Action for Youth Empowerment and the 1 Million by 2021 Initiative all seek to provide policy frameworks and tangible opportunities to empower African youth.
Prof. Agbor says the AU enjoins with young Africans to take ownership of their own development, but is also cognizant of the responsibility it bears to create favorable environments for young people to thrive. She says this year the AU pledges to redouble efforts towards their goal of building a critical mass of young Africans empowered to actualize the aspirations of Agenda 2063 and call on all AU member states to reinforce commitments to the development, dignity and agency of youth, viewing them as an asset to be leveraged, not a problem to be solved.
“We celebrate the young Africans who are contributing daily to Africa’s progress, laying the building blocks and bridges for our sustainable growth and development. We hear your voices, we see your actions, we welcome your engagement. This month and beyond, we commit to working with you as partners as we march on to realizing The Africa We Want. Happy Africa Youth Month,” says Agbor.