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Kenya calls for youth empowerment to
spur Africa’s transformation agenda

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- African governments are urged to implement affirmative action policies to ensure the youthful population is at the center of the continent’s quest for economic progress alongside social and political renewal.

Kenya in conjunction with multilateral partners is hosting the three-day Africa Youth Conference in Nairobi whose theme is prioritizing investments in African youth within the post-2015 Agenda.

Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary for Youth and Gender Affairs, told delegates, including policymakers and campaigners, that policy incentives coupled with life-long learning and access to capital were key to ensure the young generation is part of Africa’s socio-economic transformation.

“Africa is grappling with a youth bulge that should be harnessed to make a positive contribution to the continent’s envisaged growth and transformation agenda,” Kobia remarked.

“We must scale up best practices to ensure the youth have gainful employment, skills and seed capital required to make them self-reliant and resilient,” she added.

The 2018 Africa Youth Conference sought to spotlight strategic areas that the continent’s youthful population can be actively engaged to promote economic growth, peace, stability and environmental sustainability.

Kobia said that greater participation of the youth is key to modernizing and enhancing the competitiveness of African economies in the era of globalization.

“Our governments should create an enabling environment for the youth to participate in the digital economy that is unleashing the next wave of prosperity in the continent,” said Kobia.

Multilateral institutions have rallied behind concerted efforts by African countries to tackle youth unemployment, skills deficit and social exclusion that poses existential threat to the continent’s stability and progress.

Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, the Eastern and Southern Africa Region Director for UN Women, said that competence-based learning, mentorship and easy access to start-up capital is key to ensuring African youth contribute optimally to the continent’s growth agenda.

“African youth are resilient and can be drivers of change if they have access to requisite skills, technologies, innovations and mentorship,”said Derex-Briggs, adding that growth of social enterprises in Africa is being fueled by the youth.

The International Labor Organization says that 3 in every 5 unemployed people in Sub-Saharan Africa are youth hence exposing them to poverty and social ills like crime, drug abuse and radicalization.

Mildred Nzau, a Kenyan youth advocate, said that robust public private partnerships could offer solution to skills and funding gaps that limit the capacity of African youth to realize their potential.



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