Role of Young People in Actualizing the Development Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want

Jimmie Chengo is an AiduAlumni from Kenya. He is a prolific writer/blogger and Founder of Afribuk Society - a non profit that brings mobile libraries to rural villages in Kenya to allow young enthusiastic kids to get their hands on story books and read. He wrote the following essay as a competition item organized by the African Youth Union Commission. Enjoy the read!

Role of Young People in Actualizing the Development Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want 
The future success of the world rests with the continued commitment and contributions of the young people in promoting sustainability. This relates to Africa, which has the youngest and fast growing population in the world. According to UNDP Africa, “By 2055 the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more double the 2015 total of 226 million.” This can offer a possible demographic dividend to reap the benefits for the continent in the next coming years. 
The Africa we want – Agenda 2063 has 7 aspirations but one that stands out is the 6th aspiration, An Africa where development is People-Driven, Unleashing the potential of its women and Youth. Agenda 2063 can be actualized if nations in Africa support young people as drivers of Africa rebirth.  
Firstly, Africa has been in the past grappling with intergenerational poverty. Poverty experienced by the youth is correlated to childhood deprivation and parental poverty: that in a way or the other, the older generation has been unable to provide the requirements needed by the younger generation, such that they are unable to effectively meet the challenges faced during their youth. This cycle can be broken by the youth and children getting access to quality education and science, technology and innovation driven skills revolution. Access to quality education from; early childhood education to tertiary skill based training will tremendously shift this negative arc, an educated workforce is essential for stimulating long term economic growth and reducing poverty in Africa. 
Secondly, Agricultural development is one of the driving forces of the economy and the foundation for the broad based development and inclusive growth in Africa, in order to meet the goal of increased agricultural production the youth are encouraged to imbibe farming as a noble profession. The rural-urban migration witnessed in the youth in Africa due to poor yields or profits in agricultural sectors hinders transfer of knowledge from the old farmers to the youth hence leading to an ageing agricultural system. The sustainability of this sector and food production lies heavily on not only newer technologies but also the young people choosing to remain in the rural areas and engaging in agriculture. The youth are the key players in increasing farmer visibility by tapping rapidly on developing technology and working together to produce positioning documents and also engage in agricultural value chains through access to ICT’s - by using mobile phone applications. If every other population variable is constant feeding the projected growth spurt by 2063 will be daunting task and so the young people are vital as to their creativity and ideas which can solve and position us at sustainable place. 
Consecutively, climate change is currently a world problem with repercussions being felt heavily on Africa despite us being a minor contributor. Agenda 2063’s goal of an environmentally sustainable and climate resilient economics and communities can be achieved with concerted efforts from all levels of organization. However, the youth around the continent are mobilizing each other towards sustainable use and protection of natural resources through startups on conservation and initiatives that seek to leverage on renewable energy, water resource management, rehabilitating lands by planting trees and advocating towards all that through activism. The youth can voice their opinions against deforestation which is fundamentally challenging the existence of livelihoods; it increases a continent’s risk of experiencing disasters such as extreme drought and floods.  
Equally important, Adherence to Human rights and democracy has been a challenge in the continent, nations experiencing turmoil caused by negative democratic trends. This has in turn caused wars and civil unrest. Agenda 2063’s aspiration of an Africa of Good Governance, Democracy, Respect for Human Rights Justice and the Rule of Law can be therefore actualized if the democratic institutions, leaders and processes are accountable. The young can therefore contribute by organizing themselves in small groups of leadership, civil groups that counter check and fight for democracy and human rights. These small groups of leadership can participate in policy level, also rally fellow youth to participate in democratic activities such as elections and also encourage each other to run for offices that coincide with their voting ages. With the youth being able to come together under one voice this will strengthen the hold of democracy and human rights. 
Last but not least, the youthful population of Africa can help to actualize the agenda 2063 if they are empowered and engaged. Empowerment of the young people regardless of sex will create a self-sustaining pool of young people that are ingenious and talented. The youth can do peer to peer mentorships, health and sex education that will help bring about healthy and well-nourished citizens. Empowerment of the young women in Africa through investments in sexual and reproductive health will allow them to make decisive choices that pertain to their lives preventing early pregnancies, gender violence, child labour and marriages. Raising the status of the young women, helping young people understand their reproductive rights and enabling their active participation to achieve their own sexual and reproductive rights is key to achieving the Agenda 2063. 
Most of the issues discussed above are of great importance to the actualization of the Agenda 2063 and somehow the young people have a great stake in them. In addition, for an integrated continent enshrined in Pan Africanism as aspired by the agenda, the young people offer an opportunity to embrace diversity quickly. The youth are cultural voyagers; they learn other cultures and languages easily and are exposed to the cultures through interaction on the internet which isn’t biased on race, religion, gender or nationality. Diversity will allow for an integrated continent a good opportunity for free movement of goods, services and capital along with exchange of ideas. The exchange of ideas leads to newer solutions or bettering of existing ones and also through diversity our cultural identity and heritage will not necessarily be eroded as popular opinion but will be strengthened and marketed top the world. 
In conclusion, the young people of today are the force, hope and leaders of tomorrow. If given a voice and investing on those voices and ideas they generate the Africa we want will not only be fruitful but also long lived. The position of the young people in these agenda is very vital, allowing for participation and inclusion of them in policy making in all the sectors will bring fresh perspective to handle modern problems. 

Written by:

Jimmie Chengo,
Bsc.Clothing, Textile & Interior Design,
Appled Community Development Studies,
Egerton University, Kenya.
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Posted by: George Jilani

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