African Youths’ Development Through the Eyes of African Leaders (Part 1)
The African Union (AU) has just concluded its 17th Ordinary Session in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea with the theme ‘Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development’. It seems the leaders this time wanted to chart a new direction for the continent’s young people. Meanwhile various matters of importance such as NATO’s bombardment of Libya and Ghaddafi ICC’s arrest warrant cum the recognition of Africa’s newest state of Southern Sudan were discussed; they subsumed them under that theme to demonstrate to African youths that they have their interest at heart with some selected youths in attendance.
With spectacular elegance to youth’s case file, they resolved:
- That all Member States should advance the youth agenda and adopt policies and mechanisms towards the creation of safe, decent and competitive employment opportunities by accelerating the implementation of the Youth Decade Plan of Action (2009-2018) and the Ouagadougou 2004 Plan of Action on Employment Promotion and Poverty Alleviation;
- That the Commission in collaboration with its partners should elaborate a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) framework, addressing specifically the domains of Agriculture and ICT, while accelerating the implementation of the Youth Decade Plan of Action
- That Member States provide to the Commission adequate resources for the advancement of the Youth Agenda, including the funding of the Pan African Youth Union;
- to organize on the margins of every June/July Summit a training program for the Youth Volunteers,
- That all trained Young Volunteers should be deployed as soon as possible after their training including placement in the AU organs and the Regional Economic Communities as part of capacity building for young professionals.
A critical look at the resolutions set above by African leaders; depict their collective resolve to solving myriad of problems facing young people in the continent. African youths have for too long been at the receiving end of the leadership failure for decades and their pent-up feeling was let loose in the Arab Spring uprising that caused politico-economic upheaval in the Maghreb states, and the spill-over effect being felt in other parts of the continent. Thanks to the social network sites such as Facebook and Twitters, that linked up young people of varied backgrounds for a collective action. One of the most glaring problems of African youth is unemployment. Taking a cue from the first point of the resolutions, since 2009, how many jobs have these leaders created in their respective countries in consonant with the Youth Decade Plan of Action (YDPA) that has a decade life-span? What is the poverty reduction rate in their different countries since they adopted the Ouagdougou 2004 Plan of Action? I think the hitches that bedeviled the Lagos Plan of Action of the 1980s still persist. Practical realities in many African countries are opposed to the grand orthodoxies contained in their bulletins.
Reiteration of this particular issue pertaining to employment assume prominence in the just concluded summit because Abdulaziz, the Tunisian young man set himself alight having been frustrated and ill-treated by the police- an action that sparked off violence that crumbled the about two decades of iron-fist leadership of Ben Ali. The case of Egypt was not different which toppled Mubarak’s three decades of interrupted autocratic regime. It is upon this fear that they quickly wanted to handle the issue of employment generation and poverty reduction via creating employment opportunities. So, if they have these plans of actions in the past years, why have they not implemented them until there is problem that has the propensity to tumble their governments? I see that resolution number one as a deterrent measure to massage the ego of African youths to stay away from the Tunisia-Egypt-Libya kind of unrest. They only paid lip-service to the process as majority of the leaders do not have a clear-cut program that would enhance the real implementation the YDPA.
Moreover, the claim they laid to the enhancement of technical training for youth in the specified areas of Agriculture and Information Communication Technology (ICT) is not something new. No doubt technical training for the young people would help immensely in building middle-level man-power for development couple with requisite ICT skills. The same is true for agriculture. In many of these countries, how many technical colleges/training schools can boast of the state-of-the-art equipment as well as functional computers with internet access? Again how many government farms do they have, either to provide cash crops for export, or grow staple food to stem the rate of hunger in the continent? Most of these countries rely heavily on the importation of staple food which has grave consequence whenever there is a ‘price shock’ at the international market.