AFRIGROWTH FOUNDATION- A FRONT LINER AND THOUGHT LEADER COMMITTED TO ADVOCATING FOR IMPROVED IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AFRICAN YOUTH CHARTER
Convinced that Africa’s greatest resource is its youthful population and that through their active and full participation; Africans can surmount the difficulties that lie ahead (AYC, 2006:1)
Africa’s robust Youth environment and increasing Youth population makes her the most youthful populated continent in the world. According to the United Nations in 2015; 226 million Youths aged 15-24 years live in Africa, representing nearly 20% of Africa’s population; thus, making up one-fifth of the world’s Youth population. The emerging global and regional consensus on Youth development clearly underscores the need for Youths to be empowered to take their place as national assets. Currently, with seven of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world, Africa’s growth is being driven by her Youths, who are brimming with talent and energy.
Since inception and for over a decade of work in Africa, AfriGrowth Foundation’s Youth-focused programs have been customized towards building the capacity of African Youths to serve as active change agents, which utilize their energy, idealism, and insights into building progressive society. AfriGrowth Foundation’s programs utilize ‘mentoring’ as the main vehicle of empowerment, as the Foundation believes that investing in Youths will culminate in placing them on a better pedestal to impact Africa and the world at large.
Youths are the powerhouse of Africa and the means through which the socio-economic status and leadership in the continent can be enhanced. Cognizant of Africa’s youth population, with over 75% of the continent’s population under the age of 35, the African Union (AU) has since prioritized the empowerment of young people as central to achieving the vision of Agenda 2063.
The African Youth Charter, adopted in 2006, a rights-based framework, which guides the engagement and empowerment of Youths in Africa has spawned several action plans that guide its implementation; most recently the African Plan of Action on Youth Empowerment (APAYE 2019-2023). 39 African countries have ratified and adopted the African Youth Charter. The African Youth Charter does not only provide the Governments, Youth, Civil Society and International Partners with a continental framework, which underlines the rights, duties and freedom of Youth, it also paves the way for the development of national programs and strategic plans for Youth empowerment.
The Charter consists of three sections:
- The preamble highlighting the role and importance of Africa’s youthful population;
- The ‘Rights and Duties of Youth in Member States’ in twenty-eight broad articles dealing with issues affecting youth, the role of AU member states and the youth’s role in social, political, economic affairs of the continent; and
- Deals with the technical aspects of signing, ratification, adherence and amendments.
In line with its continuous investment in Youths, AfriGrowth Foundation successfully convened the Maiden Edition of the Illuminate Africa Youth Conference on Thursday October 29, 2020. The first edition of the Conference with the theme- Instituting Pan-African Youth Engagement and Inclusion in Post COVID-19 Africa explored the roles of African Youth CSOs in a post COVID 19 era, especially in the implementation of the African Youth Charter.
The Conference provided a virtual open and inclusive platform for important stakeholders in Government, Regional Agencies and African Youth Civil Society Organizations to discuss incentives, which will culminate in improved collaboration and partnership focused on complementing the efforts of the African Union, specifically in advocating for better implementation of the African Youth Charter. The Conference equally availed AfriGrowth Foundation the opportunity to collate credible information on the current implementation of the African Youth Charter from the team of distinguished resource persons and African Youth participants.
Resource persons and key stakeholders affirmed that the African Youth Charter is indeed a veritable document, which can effectively champion youth engagement, inclusive development and empowerment. Thus ratification, domestication and implementation of the Charter across African States are very important tasks that should have a collaborative approach.
Findings from the pre-conference survey conducted by AfriGrowth Foundation (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1uS815RMr_Py6LObOkRTFK_UoQWIbVy1SGtDoaoKWVHo/) revealed that 65% of Youth respondents had no knowledge of the African Youth Charter; while 72% of the Youth respondents had no understanding of the Action Plan for Africa Youth Empowerment (APAYE). This lapse knowledgebase of Youths as regards important policies and programs is the bane for effective engagement and participation.
Based on the outcome of the Conference, AfriGrowth Foundation is currently facilitating an intervention with a tripartite objective of enlightening more African Youths and creating a better publicity on the African Youth Charter via the print, broadcast, digital and social
media; building the capacity of CSOs to effectively campaign for the ratification of the Charter and in the post ratification process, monitor the implementation of the Charter across the African states; and engage key stakeholders in government on the improved implementation of the African Youth Charter.
AfriGrowth Foundation believes and affirms that Youths are the quintessence of energy, initiative and the powerhouse of Africa. Thus, it’s most imperative for them to effectively champion and participate in this enlightenment and awareness campaign, which is an integral part of advocacy for improved implementation of the African Youth Charter.
The African Youth Charter is indeed a unique instrument for the protection and safeguarding of the African Youth because it takes into consideration African values with respect to youth development. As AfriGrowth Foundation remains resolute in building the prospects of African Youths; the Foundation will continue to forge veritable partnership and synergy with other CSOs anchored on advocating for improved implementation of the Charter across all African States.