Organizers of the 14th African Economic Conference (AEC2019) – African Development Bank (AfDB), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) – have reaffirmed their commitment to engage Africa’s youth as an integral part of the continent’s development initiatives.
“We must stop assuming that we can solve their problems in their absence,” said Adam Elhiraika, Director of Macroeconomics and Governance at the ECA, in his AEC2019 closing remarks on 4 December in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
“They have made us understand over the past three days that all they want is to be part of the decisions that affect their daily lives. We must, therefore, put them at the centre of every development policy at both national and regional levels,” he added.
For Angela Lusigi, UNDP Africa’s Strategic Advisor, AEC2019 “has contributed to a new understanding of Africa’s youth in the context of Africa’s present and bright future as our long-awaited disrupters and innovators.”
Ms Lusigi said her organization was “committed to connecting and upscaling our interventions towards creating the 100 million jobs needed”
Discussions at AEC2019 focused on “Jobs, Entrepreneurship and Capacity Development for African Youths”
AfDB’s Director for Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research – Hanan Morsy – stated, “There’s nothing more important for our continent’s policymakers than the subject of jobs for our youth.”
Ms Morsy was of the view that “Africa’s jobs problem cannot be solved by any single entity,” but that there was need for concerted efforts amongst nations, development partners, public and private sectors, researchers, and other stakeholders.
ECA’s Elhiraika pointed out that the Commission remains supportive of “productive collaborations” such as the AEC where discussions and recommendations can sustainably uplift member states and youths in particular.
He challenged young Africas to “contribute to our continental integration agenda,” because “creating a united Africa is the most important step towards creating greater opportunities for all Africans.”
The three-day event featured a joint launch of the Africa Sustainable Development Report 2019 (AfDB, ECA, UNDP), and ECA’s Economic Report on Africa 2019. There was also a Best Paper Award ceremony with three recipients (one female youth, one male youth, and one adult) based on presentations at AEC2019.