President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has challenged Africa’s youth to take mental, physical and economic lead roles in positioning Africa as the giant of the future.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at the YouthConnekt Africa Summit taking place in Accra, President Akufo-Addo maintained that the African could be as successful as any other, and urged the youth, who make up a very large proportion of Africa’s population, to take their rightful place in shaping the continent’s destiny.
“I do not accept that Africa has a DNA that dooms us to failure. Africans can, like all the other peoples that have succeeded, make life meaningful and worth living for their own people. We must cultivate an irrepressible desire to do right by the citizen.
“There is an abundance of dynamic, entrepreneurial talent on our continent struggling to express itself and take advantage of such conditions. We have to encourage this expression with full force, and ensure that we can stand on our own feet, and make it impossible for the systematic looting and plundering of our human and material resources, that have characterized much of our modern history, to continue. This is the significance of the concept of Ghana Beyond Aid, indeed, of Africa Beyond Aid.”
The President continued: “Simply put, I just want us to have more self-confidence and accept that we shall never reach the level of development we aspire to by relying on aid or external assistance, no matter how generous. It is a mindset that I wish Africans to discard, a mindset of living on charity and handouts.
“To get to a situation Beyond Aid, we will have to harness effectively our own resources, and deploy them creatively and efficiently for rapid economic and social transformation.”
Noting that a youthful population has always had a major impact on the growth of economies across the world, President Akufo-Addo said Africa, despite having the largest generation of young people in history, must take active steps to make the opportunities inherent in having such a demographic advantage a reality.
“The population opportunity will not automatically guarantee us a future of growth and prosperity. Demographic dividends do not come automatically. They have to be earned.
“With over forty percent (40%) of Africa’s working population between the ages of fifteen (15) and twenty-four (24), Africa is the youngest continent in the world… Yet, too many of our young people are trapped in poverty, with few opportunities to learn or to earn a decent living. According to the World Bank, youth account for sixty percent (60%) of all African unemployed.
“No one needs to tell us that mass unemployment in Africa, especially amongst her youth, is a ticking time bomb. The so-called Arab Spring showed clearly that lack of employment opportunities can undermine social cohesion and political stability. With between ten (10) to twelve (12) million youths joining the labour force every year, Africa has to pay maximum attention to job creation,” he warned.
Increasing investment in young people is key, the President noted. This includes promoting diverse, quality education that prepares them for a future of opportunities.
“For young people to be able to exploit the economic opportunities that abound in Africa, they must have the skills and training necessary to take advantage of them. In doing this, Africa must fashion an education policy that is also gender sensitive, for women are a slight majority of Africa’s youth.