Published On: Tue, Aug 13th, 2013

5th Africa Youth and Governance conference -Accra Ghana

The President, John Dramani Mahama, has described the youth as change agents with a responsibility to contribute to national development.

President Mahama, who decried youth unemployment and migration as worrying trends, therefore, stressed the need to adequately manage the upsurge in youth population in order to derive the full benefits and potentials of the youth.

He said the youth should not be marginalised, but recognised as major stakeholders in development, noting, however, that the involvement of the youth in social vices such as the use and abuse of narcotics and cyber crime could interfere with the positive growth and development of their communities and society as a whole.

The President’s words were contained in a key note address delivered on his behalf at the opening of the 5th African Youth and Governance Conference (AYGC) in Accra, yesterday.

In an address, the Minister for Youth and Sports, Mr Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, said government was committed to matters relating to youth development in Ghana and across the continent―hence Ghana’s ratification of the African Youth Charter and the African Charter on Democracy and Governance, both of which documents highlighted youth participation in governance.

Mr Afriyie-Ankrah said, government had also launched a National Youth Policy and instituted several programmes to harness the potential of the youth which were in consonance with the theme for the conference.

He said in response to calls for policies that promoted youth development, government was working towards the establishment of a Youth Development Fund and the revision of the National Youth Parliament.

He, therefore, called for partnership with civil society to ensure that the youth were a key part of governance and decision-making processes in their respective countries.

In a welcome address, Mr Seth Oteng, Executive Director of the Youth Bridge Foundation, organisers of the conference, noted that even though more than 65% of Africa’s population was below the age of 35 years, there was little to show in terms of dividends or rewards of the youthful population boom.

Mr Oteng said the youth were in the majority in Africa and could, therefore, not be ignored in matters of governance and development. “In the 21st century and a fast-changing world, keeping the youth on the fringes of decision-making means marginalising the majority,” he emphasised.

He urged political leaders and corporate Africa to initiate sustainable processes for dealing with the unemployment burden, noting that the prolonged youth marginalisation and high rate of unemployment in Africa should be considered major sources of economic insecurity that could lead to destabilisation of any political and social system.

He said the YBF looked forward to workable partnerships and models for youth engagement with both state and non-state actors in tackling the problems of youth development, recognising that African governments alone could not solve all the problems of the youth.

Mr Oteng challenged delegates to a higher responsibility in building an Africa whose future generations would be proud to be part of.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)

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