On 5-9 November 2018, ACP YPN Experts Adélaïde Hirwe and Kelly-Ann Fonderson attended S&D 3rd annual Africa Week at the European Parliament in Brussels to represent the African youth diaspora. They and 20 other youth representatives from Africa and Europe published a Youth Declaration which has now been submitted to leaders in the European Union and African Union.
Kelly-Ann Fonderson facilitated the third session on strong institutions for reducing inequality, promoting decent and sustainable growth for a lasting peace and security. She argued that the inclusion of youth is quintessential to promoting sustainable growth and lasting peace especially in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa where youth represent the largest proportion of the population. She raised the need for youth forums where young people can influence policy and develop leadership skills. She emphasized the need for transparency in institutions to foster greater accountability to the people they are intended to serve. Finally, Kelly-Ann Fonderson called for a revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement ending in 2020 with regards to the economic pillar. She highlighted the need to enhance effective participation from relevant non-state actors especially at the regional level.
Adélaïde Hirwe facilitated the fourth session on the first day of Africa week. She introduced the debate on the role of young people in their community for economic and social development leading to a sustainable future. She argued with reference to some examples that youth already contribute to the economic and social development in their communities. She highlighted the role digitalisation plays in enabling youth to better contribute to SDGs however acknowledged access to digital tools as a challenge many still face. Adélaïde Hirwe emphasized the need for policies to be tailored to local realities, in particular those aimed at young entrepreneurs who so often contribute to their communities through informal businesses. She noted that ACP YPN encourages institutions to have further cooperation with youth organisations and multistakeholder synergy.
On the second day of Africa week, Adélaïde and Kelly Ann joined the youth leaders to draw the message of the youth. Kelly-Ann worked with a subgroup on strong institutions, sustainable growth and good governance. Adélaïde worked on education, skills development, digitalisation and entrepreneurship. The recommendations were focused on the need to adapt the economic, financial and educational systems to the needs of young local entrepreneurs who are often from the informal sector and emphasised the importance of giving young people access to new technology with appropriate solutions to the energy problem.
Some of the recommendations they helped draw were:
- School programs need to be reformed to fit the realities and demands of the country as well as national and international contexts.
- A financing system adapted to the realities of the field is required so that young people can build their business.
In conclusion, the youth believe that the future relationship between Africa and the EU should be one based on partnership and collaboration.
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