By Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Executive Director, Grand Africa Initiative (GAIN), Chinwe Okoli, has confirmed that youths from over 70 countries of the world participated in the 2020 Youth Summit organised by the Initiative which ended a few days ago, in addition to over 500,000 persons that connected through the various social media platforms.
Okoli, in a statement, said the Summit provided a platform for youths across the world to connect, discover and grow in their endeavours, contribute to the development of their countries and the world at large.
She emphasised the importance and timeliness of the Summit which, according to her, came at the time Nigeria and other countries of the world are actively searching for solutions to curb the rising youth unemployment.
She said: ‘The rationale for the GAIN youth Summit 2020 was to find a lasting solution to the crises of unemployment and other issues affecting the youths. We need regular engagement with relevant stakeholders, we need to sit around the table and design concrete solutions of great impact, we need to be part of the discussions for the future because we, the youths, are the future of Africa and beyond.’
The keynote speaker, Prof Chukwuma Soludo who spoke on the topic, “Curbing youth unemployment crises in Africa: The real issues” identified the key challenges of employability in Africa to include the declining quality of education, outdated academic curriculum, the economic structure of Africa and mismatch of skills supply.
He stated that every African government needs to focus on branding their people and positioning their countries for global opportunities, open up their internal borders for free movement of goods and services and evaluate government based on the number of non-government jobs created.
He urged the youths to take their own destinies in their own hands and urged the governments to design incentives to drive youth entrepreneurship, showcase, celebrate and reward young entrepreneurs.
Commenting on the mismatch between the educational curriculum and the skills required at the workplace, Prof. Soludo emphasised the need for a responsive educational system with an up-to-date curriculum to produce a workforce that is productive at home and exportable abroad.
The Vice-Chancellor, Catholic University of Zimbabwe, Prof Ranga Zinyemba, in his remarks, encouraged the youth to adopt the mindset of continuous learning, reminding them that things change so fast and digital skills provide less fortunate people with opportunities to break out of poverty.
On her part, the National Coordinator for International Trade Centre (ITC), Ms Terfa Ashwe, advocated inclusive policies for small businesses to thrive, and it requires a good understanding of the locality, industry and sectors of the businesses as well as the stages of the business, capability, knowledge and skill of the founders.
Speaking on cross border promotion and partnerships, The Ambassador of The Gambia to the European Union, Mrs Teneng Jaiteh, stated that ‘Africa needs to strengthen its cross-border partnerships and opportunities to prosper.’
She said: ‘Africa needs to look inwards, open internal borders to create new opportunities for trade and technological development and innovation for her teeming young population. Opening our borders would unlock rich potentials for our continents, for decent jobs, for knowledge sharing, for innovation and growth. Young people need to be part of the decision-making process. Their voices need to be taken on board at the policy development at the national implementation level.’