Mr Seth Oteng, Executive Director, Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF), on Wednesday said the African youth holds the key to the continent’s integration and progress in leadership and governance.
He said the well-touted Pan African dream, economic liberation and the ‘beyond aid’ agenda, would be meaningless today, unless it was linked to the empowered African youth.
He said investing in Africa’s human capital, anchored on education, was the way forward and must be integrated into the long term developmental agenda of all African states.
Mr Oteng, made this observation at the opening of the 10th African Youth and Governance Conference (AYGC), organised by the YBF, in Accra.
The conference on the theme; “mobilizing Africa’s youth to build a continent beyond aid,” emphasizes the critical need to pull resources of young people to transform the continent and strive towards Africa’ aspirations ‘beyond aid’.
The eight-day conference, is hosting 20 African Countries, 30 youth from the Diaspora, seven coaches from Canada and resource persons drawn from Cornell, Dalhousie and McMaster Universities, who would join other Ghanaian resource persons.
Mr Oteng, said the conference, which started on August 5 and end on August 12, is a platform for Africans to critically consider how to pull resources of young people to transform the continent and strive towards its aspirations beyond aid.
He said the conference was a reflection and manifestation of what the future of African leadership would look like, saying, African youth was not all about conflicts, wars, violence and extreme poverty, as African youth were now inventing, creating opportunities and finding solutions to problems.
He said in order to change the world, so much focus was needed on developing the necessary life skills that was easily taken for granted.
He said the realisation, the fulfilment, and the final outcome of the ‘beyond aid’ agenda were dependent on the youth, hence, the need to involve them in all development and leadership processes early enough to take over the older generations from where they left off, better informed, resourced, matured and responsible.
Madam Nadia Adongo Musah, the Deputy Director in charge of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President said the Diaspora had a lot to offer in Ghana’s development, since there were a lot of opportunities out there Ghanaians could tap into.
She said the theme for the conference reflected on the President’s agenda, ‘Ghana beyond aid’ and this could only be achieved by looking into the younger generation.
She said the younger generation are a group of dynamic, energetic, creative, individuals scattered all over, and it was important to mobilise them to come together to build the nation and continent to take it to the level of being seen as part of the solution and decision making at the highest level.
Madam Adongo Musah said, “it is time to look in our own back yard, look at what we have and see how to use that to be able to make it to a product that the whole world would love to have a bit of it”.
She noted that the Diaspora office at the presidency was there to mobilise Diaspora youth who were taken away during the slave trade without knowing where they were going, to share and start innovative projects in the country.
Madam Heather Cameron, Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana said it was important for the youth to have the chance now to come together, expressing the hope that the friendship and the network built, would be extended and sustained.
“No one is ever too young to be a leader and to seek answers that could bring about change in the world. You are leaders now and we hope that this conference will strengthen your leadership skill,” she added.
The YBF, initiator and convenor of the annual leadership grooming programme, is a Non-Governmental youth-focused organisation accredited with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Special Consultative Status.
As a youth-focused educational organisation, it has the goal of bridging the gaps of the youth for positive youth development.
The AYGC 2018, is the convergence of a four-tier transformational leadership programme for leadership grooming, cascade of mentorship, community impact, and networking for African and Diaspora youth.