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‘Young people represent three-fifth of Africa’s unemployed population’

May 24, 2016, 2:07 PM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

He was addressing the delegates yesterday at the Paradise Suites Hotel Penchami Hall, as part of events marking ten years of the African Youth Charter and Banjul+10 Summit.

“Today, ten years after the endorsement of the charter, young people represent three-fifth of Africa’s unemployed population.”

He said African Union leaders met in Banjul on July 2006 and decided to better address the challenges preventing their young people to fulfill their potential.

Responding to the aspirations of young people across the continent, the leaders of the continent agreed on the African Youth Charter, which entered into force in August 2009, he added.

Ngom further stated that the accompanying plan for young people was entitled “The youth decade plan of action” and covers the period 2009 to 2018.

“While there are some bright spots here and there, much more needs to be done for our young people as they continue to face even greater challenges,” he noted.

He said currently about one-third of African young people between 5 and 14 years of age are forced to work to cater for and support their families, meaning they have to leave the classrooms and face a high opportunity cost as they perpetuate the intergenerational poverty.

Mr Ngom further stated that today productivity remains constrained by the low skills levels Africa continues to experiment with, since over a quarter of youths are still illiterates.

“It is estimated that within the next fifteen years, about 25 million people will enter the job market annually on the African continent.”

Mr Ngom also said the concerned for the youths of Africa is how to cope with the continuous population growth when there are no job opportunities, and when access to basic services and fundamental rights such as health, education and dignified life remain a significant challenge.

However, he added, obstacles to family planning are still around threatening progress.

“Obviously, important steps were taken for the effective internalisation, ratification and implementation of the charter,” he stated.

However, he continued, this had produced mixed results as young people in Africa are still confronting multiple crises.

“Today many of us would agree that the current situation is grave and requires immediate attention by all.”

He said in order to address the above-mentioned challenges of limited achievement of the objectives of the African Youth Charter, the Banjul+10 celebration is the right platform for all of them to recommit and pledge their actions, that would deliver the critical mass interventions they need to reverse the current heavy trends.

It was also the right platform for young people to fully engage and actively contribute to the conversation, as they are the ones who face the challenges more than anyone else, he added.

“Banjul+10 offers us the unique opportunity to ensure that agenda 2063 is guided by our collective experiences, taking into account our successes but also our failures.”

African leaders alongside their partners and friends need to swiftly address the many urgent needs of young people so that they could contribute with their full potential to the transformation of the continent, he added.

“Today, our agenda is about the development of another roadmap building on the lessons learnt with the charter and moving us towards the harnessing of the demographic dividend. But let us remember that a new roadmap will not take us very far if it cannot be radically different from the previous one,” he said.

He added that the African Union leaders have adopted the demographic dividend as the theme of two African Union Summits of 2017.

They must therefore do everything to empower Africa’s young people so that they are not forced into migration and radicalisation.

“We have the opportunity to avoid a possible demographic disaster and transform it into a demographic dividend. This benefit could be up to the tune of US$500 billion for 30 years if we make the right investments in the human capital,” he said.

He said there are harmful practices preventing young girls and women from realising their potential and contributing to the transformation of the continent.

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