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ECOWAS moves toward greater youth empowerment

Sep 21, 2010, 1:20 PM | Article By: Baboucarr Senghore

Stakeholders from the ECOWAS sub-region are gathering in Banjul for a weeklong capacity building workshop on the implementation of the ECOWAS Youth Policy and sharing of experience on youth development and empowerment.

The sensitization forum, which opened yesterday at the Paradise Suites Hotel, among others, seeks to avail participants from the sub-region the opportunity to initialize the ECOWAS Youth Policy and Strategic Plan of Action, as well as exchange best practices on youth development and empowerment.

The objective of the ECOWAS Youth Policy is to mobilize youths and get them adequately involved in the regional integration and development process of the sub-region.

Having identified its target groups, underlying rights, responsibilities and obligations of stakeholders in youth development, what priorities to focus on and an insight to implementation, the policy seeks to empower and marshal agriculture and manufacturing nations, thriving on free market policies and vibrant private sector, sustained by a well-educated, trained, skilled, healthy self reliant and enterprising population, guaranteeing a well balanced eco-system and a decent standard of living for one and all under a system of government based on the consent of the citizenry.

"In 2007, the Gambia government through the Ministry of Trade and Employment with the support of its development partners instituted the Gambia Priority Employment Programme (Gamjobs) in an attempt to operationalise the National Employment Policy and National Employment Action Plan in response to increasing unemployment and poverty in the country, particularly among youth and women," Sheriff Gomez, minister of Youth and Sports, said in his keynote address.

The overall objective of the project, according to him, is to create the enabling environment for employment creation in order to develop a skilled, versatile, dynamic and efficient workforce, and create opportunities for self-employment in both the formal and informal economy, within the context of Vision 2020 and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP II).

He stated that these achievements by the Gambia government coupled with the encouraging public-private sector partnership, have seen a giant leap forward in our national quest to meaningfully engage the youth for sustained socio-economic development, national unity and political stability.

Kennedy Basisa, Principal Programme Officer ECOWAS Commission who deputized Dr. Adrienne Diop, Commissioner Human Development and Gender ECOWAS Commission, said the loud cry of youth everywhere is the little or no recognition accorded to them and their challenges by Governments, in spite of the fact that they constitute a greater majority in all countries of the region.

"Often times the youth are mobilized to prosecute the agenda of the rich and the powerful; and when such agendas are achieved, the youth are forgotten in reaping the benefits of such ventures," he said, adding that the present times posits the need to harness the potentials of youth for meaningful and positive development of our countries and region.

According to Dr. Basisa, ECOWAS is in the vanguard of mobilizing youth and getting them to be adequately and properly engaged in the regional integration process.

"To provide the needed capacity to be proactive, ECOWAS has adopted relevant policy instruments, the ECOWAS Youth and Sports development policies, to guide and give the centre the required policy frameworks to develop, produce and implement well-focused programmes and initiatives that meet the needs and aspirations of youth in the region," Kennedy added.