INTERVENTION NOTES ON THEMATIC SESSION I: ENHANCING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUTH: INVESTING IN AFRICAN SUSTAINABLE STRUCTURAL TRANSFORMATION – EDUCATION
Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Chairpersons of the African Union Commissions and the European Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me at the onset to convey best wishes for this fifth EU-AU Summit from HE President Kenyatta, on whose behalf I have the great honour to present this statement. Allow me to express our appreciatiation to the Government and People of Cote D’Ivoire for their legendary hospitality.
The Population of Africa is increasingly becoming younger and currently approximately 75% of Africans are aged below 35 years. As the African Population continues to grow, the proportion of those within the working age of 16 – 64 years of age will grow exponentially.
This youthful population presents both a challenge and the greatest opportunity for socio-economic transformation of Africa, given the energy, drive, passion and innovation that is inherent in many young people. Consequently, harnessing the demographic dividend in Africa will hinge upon our commitment to create sufficient job opportunities to absorb the rising number of new entrants in the job market and the preparedness of the young people to step into these jobs. We must not only aim at creating jobs for the youth, but also and more importantly, in building their capacities with appropriate skills, expertise and attitudes that will enable them make positive contributions.
Africa’s vision and Action Plan towards sustainable socio-economic and political development, the Agenda 2063, recognizes the need to empower African youth and women to be the drivers of change. The plan envisions an Africa where the creativity and innovation will be the driving force of Africa’s transformation.
As governments in Africa make great efforts, through diverse approaches, to address the issue of youth unemployment, we recognize that there cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ kind of solution. However, our diverse experiences can provide us with a strong orientation towards what is working and how it can be adopted in our unique socio-economic and political environments. We must therefore find ways of sharing these experiences and the progress made in dealing with the challenges of creating decent jobs and livelihoods. In these undertakings, the support of our partners will be highly appreciated.
We in Kenya are implementing a number of policy and programmatic interventions in education, health, economic and governance sectors geared towards creating opportunities for special demographic segments, including youth and women. It is our firm belief that empowering these population segments is a critical part of harnessing a demographic dividend for long-term economic transformation.
Towards giving effect to the youth agenda, the Government of Kenya has developed a policy and legal framework that targets 30% of Government procurement in favour of enterprises owned by the youth, women and persons with disabilities. Other policy and programmatic interventions include: Access to concessional loans; investing in technical and vocational skills training for youths; launch of youth volunteer programmes, internships and apprenticeships programs to help youth acquire the requisite skills; innovation and entrepreneurial incubation programs; and empowering youth through promoting access to information through ICT.
Small and Medium Enterprises, especially in the informal sector continue to be among the fastest growing sectors with potential to create employment among young people. Improvement of working conditions for young people and the creation of favorable business environment will go a long way in promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among the youth. Young people must be supported to transit from job seeking to job creation.
Investing in young people is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.
It is therefore imperative, that within the framework this partnership between the African Union and the European Union, we develop political consensus for inception of concrete policies and programmes that will help us harness the demographic opportunities of our youths and to resolve the ensuing challenges.
I thank you for your kind attention.