Africa has the youngest population in the world with about 41% of the people below 15 years old while another 19% are between 15 and 24 years. It is estimated that in 2055, the continent’s youth population aged 15-24, will more than double the 2015 total of 226 million. However, the continent remains hostile to youth participation especially in the areas of substantive politics and governance

There is a massive age gap between Africa’s youthful population and its leaders. While the average age of the African population is 19.5, that of their leaders according to a 2017 UNDP Report is 62 years. This is the world’s largest age gap between governors and the governed, and it raises concerns about how well decision-makers understand the needs and aspirations of young people. This disparity can cause huge challenges such as political and social unrest, criminality and even armed conflict if not addressed. The ability of African governments’ and other stakeholders to tap into the energy and dynamism of the burgeoning youthful population will be an important factor determining whether the continent prospers or suffers in future.

As part of efforts to address the gap between the youth and government as well as create a sustained avenue to prepare young people in Africa for governance and leadership, the Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF) in collaboration with the National Youth Authority will host the 11th edition of the African Youth and Governance Convergence (AYGC) in Ghana from August 11 – 18 2019 at the Hill View Guest Centre Abokobi-Accra. Themed “Partnerships for Youth Development: Key to Building Africa beyond Aid” the meeting will host 120 young people drawn from 25 African countries and 20 from the diaspora.

The AYGC is a week-long convergence initiated and convened by YBF since 2009. It brings together the youth, experts in academia, government officials and public servants to analyze policy documents and deliberate on issues affecting the continent.

Speaking on the side-lines ahead of AYGC 2019 Professor Ransford Gyampo, the Head of Youth Bridge Research Institute (YBRI) observed that, AYGC 2019 will delve much into the practical ways of achieving the vision of Africa Beyond Aid through youth development, mentorship and leadership. He expressed the hope that this year’s meeting would also deepen collaboration between young people in Diaspora and their African counterparts in a manner that makes them useful to the continent’s quest for development.

Mr Seth Oteng, the Executive Director of YBF, stated that over the years the annual youth-leadership convergence had held discussion and made recommendations bordering on youth development and participation, which when implemented, would shape the African development “Consistent with AYGC 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 themes, YBF maintains that Africa needs to localize and own the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the harsh reality facing Africa demands a very intensive and multi-stakeholder collaborative effort to mobilize young people to construct a prosperous continent ‘BEYOND AID’,” he added.

Highlights of the Convergence would include; Plenary Sessions with panel discussions on topics among which would comprise; “Nurturing Strong Inter-Generational Systems to Build Africa Beyond Aid.” and “Partnerships for Youth Development; Key to Building Africa Beyond Aid.”

Delegates at the 11th AYGC will be grouped into 11 workable committees and be guided by industry experts to research on given topics ahead of the convergence General Assembly where delegates will propose and defend their motions for subsequent adoption by the Assembly.

Delegates will engage in research and share extensive knowledge on various topics under Health; Education; Diaspora Youth Affairs; Governance and Leadership and Employment and Entrepreneurship Development; Rule of Law; Gender Equality and Social Inclusion; Environment and Foreign Affairs to produce the 2019 AYGC Resolution Booklets based on delegate’s committee works.

As part of this year’s Convergence, there would be fellowship conferred on eminent personalities like the Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) of Nigeria; President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo; Honorable Tony Ince (Minister of Africa Nova Scotia Affairs, Canada) and Honorable Stanley Kasaongo of Zambia. Some young parliamentarians from Ghana and other African countries who continue to serve as role models for the youth in Africa and some qualified AYGC Alumni will also be made honorary fellows of the AYGC.

The occasion would also be used to mark the International Youth Day in collaboration with the National Youth Authority.

This year’s AYGC has Joy News, Joy Prime; the Business and Financial Times and Ghana News Canada as media partners; Awake Purified Water and Promasidor as sponsors; as well as ANSA; Dalhousie University; University of South Carolina; Black Educators Association and Magichands as supporting partners.