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AU member states urged to adopt policies that facilitate empowerment of youth

Apr 22, 2010, 11:53 AM

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has emphasised the need for policy-makers to craft policies and programmes that will facilitate empowerment of youth in all spheres. He also recalled progress that has been made in the ratification, popularisation and implementation of the African Youth Charter.

President Mugabe was speaking recently at the official opening ceremony of the 3rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Conference of Ministers in charge of youth (COMY III) held in the resort town of Victoria Falls.

The President highlighted that the ideals of the founders of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union in 1963 still remain relevant today. With specific regard to the youth, he said the founding fathers did not found the OAU for themselves, but to safeguard the future for the youth. In the same vein he said the present generation had an obligation to pass on the legacy of independence and sovereignty, which was the main objective of the OAU, to the younger generations. He also laid particular emphasis on the need to ensure that young people are educated, in order to enable them to carry forward the development process, while at the same time expressing the hope that with more education and enlightenment, girl children will become equal with boys.

The youth have an important role to play in four main areas, the President said, i.e. giving voluntary service; peace building and enhancement of unity; defending and protecting the gains of independence and upholding the vision, hopes and aspirations of the African Union. The vision of the AU is that of an Africa integrated, prosperous and peaceful, and whose success is driven by its own citizens.

Speaking at the same official opening ceremony, the Commissioner of Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST) at the AU Commission, Prof Jean Pierre Ezin addressed the AU's commitment to translate the provisions of the Decade for Youth (2009- 2018) into action. He also informed the meeting of key projects being carried out by the African Union i.e. revitalizing higher education, setting up the youth volunteer corps and promoting youth interested in science. He said under the project, which is being carried out in collaboration with India, 2010 will see training centers spread across Africa. The AU defines a youth as any person between the ages of 15 and 35.

Mr. Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister of Youth Development Indigenisation and Empowerment of Zimbabwe called for close collaboration between the different African countries as the continent seeks the development of youth, while the outgoing Chairperson of the COMY II bureau highlighted the need for closer Afro Arab cooperation and integration of all Africans including those in the Diaspora.

2010 is a special year for African youth in many ways. It was declared the International Year of the Youth by the United Nations and in August, a World Youth Conference will be held in Mexico. 2010 was also declared the year of peace and security by the African Union Heads of State and Government. It will be the year when African footballers, many of them youths, will play in the Soccer World Cup to be hosted by South Africa. In addition, it forms part of the Decade for Youth (2009- 2018), as declared by the Assembly of the African Union.

The ministerial meeting ended with the adoption of resolutions and a declaration. It was closed by Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe.