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                                                … Youth Engagement and Inclusion in Post COVID-19 Africa  



In line with its continuous investment in Youths, AfriGrowth Foundation successfully facilitated on August 12, 2021, the International Youth Day, the first edition of the Online Discourse Series on Implementation of the African Youth Charter, in partnership with the African Independent Television and Nigeria Network of NGOs as co-conveners.

The Online Discourse Series provided a virtual forum in which key resource persons and discussants shared their views and opinions on the African Youth Charter in respect to the roles of media in advocating for its implementation and very importantly Youth inclusion and engagement, as regards Article 11 of the Charter.

The Online Discourse Series, which commenced promptly at 2.00pm (Nigerian Time) was moderated by Mr. Emmanuel Ohiomokhare, Lead Consultant Senema Productions and had in attendance, Mrs. Dayo Keshi, Founder and President of AfriGrowth Foundation; Ambassador Joe Keshi, Chairman, Board of Directors of AfriGrowth Foundation and Vice Chairman, Board of Director, UBA Plc; Dr. Mrs. Oluwatosin Abimbola Dopkesi, Managing Director, Africa Independent Television (AIT); Mr. Oluseyi Oyebisi, Executive Director, Nigeria Network of NGOs; Mr. Joshua Alade, Executive Director, Nigeria Youth SDGs Network; Mr. Chidi Matthew Nwachukwu, Chief Executive Officer, Cmatencore Media Consults Limited and Mr. Ernest Ogezi, Editor, Access Media Abuja; a Radio and TV personality. The Online Discourse Series had an integrated participation of 62 Youths from Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In her opening speech, Mrs. Dayo Keshi, President and Founder, AfriGrowth Foundation applauded all key resource persons and participants for their attendance and participation. She said AfriGrowth Foundation had previously convened an international virtual conference- the Illuminate Africa Youth Conference on October 29, 2020. Based on the resolutions from the Conference, AfriGrowth Foundation decided to facilitate an Online Discourse Series, in partnership with Africa Independent Television and Nigeria Network of NGOs, as a major resolution with the core objective of enhancing publicity on the African Youth Charter.

Mrs. Dayo Keshi stated that Africa’s greatest asset lies in its youthful demography, as the Youth provide a huge social, economic and political capital required to drive socio-political and economic development. She advocated for continuous investment in Youths, as such will place them on a better pedestal to impact Africa and indeed the world at large. She equally encouraged Youths to assert the position that they are not the problems to be solved, but problem solvers.  As she formally declared the Online Discourse Series open, she reminded participants that their future rests in the palm of their hands and encouraged them to assert their position as a creative force and dynamic source of innovation.

The first discourse session was anchored on exploring the role of Media in advocacy for improved implementation of the African Youth Charter. In her opening, the Lead Discussant, Dr. Mrs. Oluwatosin Dokpesi, said that the Mass Media is to facilitate development, as provided in Article 10 of the African Youth Charter, which states that parties shall encourage all media to be sending in information that will be of economic, political, social and cultural benefits to the Youth. She stated that the Nigerian Broadcasting Code and Nigerian Code of Journalism Ethics makes it mandatory for radio and television stations to allocate specific hours daily for programming on youth, which address diverse issues concerning Youths. She encouraged youths to participate more in the Social Media, which was handy and nearly free for engagement in healthy discourse. She opined that a country can achieve any goal if the Social Media works in the direction and right manner. Hence, Youths should continue to use the Social Media to tell their stories to the world. She also advocated for more international Youth exchange programs, especially within the countries in Africa, as this will create the platform for youths to share their ideas and be more challenges to advocate for the goals of the African Youth Charter.

Another discussant, Mr. Chidi Nwachukwu, encouraged Youths to push for the full of the African Youth Charter by taking more ownership of the mass media space. He said that Youths must as a necessity, strive to own the media in order to have the leverage to tell their stories and say what they want to say.

Mr. Ernest Ogezi said that over 60% of the Nigerian population is under the age of 25 years; thus Youths should be the foundational owners of the media. He reiterated the need for Youth not only to be fully involved in the media, but more importantly steer the media in the right direction they deem fit to their growth and development, especially steer the media to initiate discourse on the Charter.

The second discourse session was premised on Article 11 of the African Youth Charter, which centered on Youth inclusion and Engagement. Amb Joe Keshi, the Lead Discussant said that African Youths must understand that the African Youth Charter was designed primarily for their growth, development and empowerment. He lamented the current lapse in knowledge, understanding and publicity on the African Youth Charter and said only African Youths can champion for its improved awareness and enlightenment.  He advised that for Youths to participate and be inclusive, they must seize every opportunity to get themselves engaged. He said there were many opportunities for engagement and inclusion. Youth should organize themselves and take advantage of opportunities


Mr. Oluseyi Oyebisi said that presently, Youths are making positive strives in effective participation, especially as young people are building their capacity to run credible organizations that engage government via monitoring and tracking government activities. He advised that young people should drive their own agenda with the older generation providing wisdom and guidance. He also advocated that Youth should not only be consulted on issues that impact their growth and development; but must be actively involved in making decisions as regards these issues.

Another discussant in this session, Joshua Alade stated that Article 11 of the Charter provides for volunteering; thus, Youths should be ready to volunteer their time, talents and treasure (money) to participate in ensuring implementation of the African Youth Charter.

The Moderator Mr. Emmanuel Ohiomokhare piloted the discourse most productively. He called for an enhanced discussion on the African Youth Charter on Television and Radio is a viable way to improve its publicity. In this regard, he stated that the time was imminent for a Televised Program, which will outline and discuss all the articles of the Charter. Mrs. Dayo Keshi said that AfriGrowth Foundation was in the process of facilitating such a program and was open to more partnership and collaboration. Mr. Emmanuel Ohiomokhare also asserted that Youth highly involved in Digital and Social Media should use their online platforms to publicize the Youth Charter.

As the curtains were drawn on the Online Discourse Series, Mrs. Dayo Keshi thanked all resource persons and discussants for their laudable inputs. She affirmed the Online Discourse Series as being most insightful, active and above all informative. She re-echoed that most especially the Broadcast and Print Media, should take the front row in publicizing the African Youth Charter. She said it was equally important to publicize the Charter in a way that will make it easily understood by Youths. She also reiterated the need for more inter-generational dialogue, in order to those in the older generation to advise and guide the Youth. She said the conversation on the African Youth Charter was continuous, which should be sustained by the Youth. She stressed the importance for African Youths to be more informed on the African Youth Charter and stated that the Foundation will convene more discourse series to publicize different articles in the Charter. She pledged that AfriGrowth Foundation will continue to promote the prospects of African Youth by advocating for the implementation of the African Youth Charter.


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