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"Youth leaders call for action in youth policies"
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"Youth leaders call for action in youth policies"

Alphonse AkouyuYouth want action to accompany policies on development, health, and employment issues, writes Alphonse Akouyu, 20, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Cameroon as he reports on the Africa Region Commonwealth Youth Ministers meeting in Yaounde.

The Africa Region Commonwealth Youth Forum was a key part in the agenda of the Youth Ministers meeting. This was an avenue for youths to discuss several issues which are affecting modern-day African youth. Amongst the issues for discussion were Commonwealth youth policies, youth employment and entrepreneurship, youth participation, youth work professionalization and civic education, youth in the post 2015 development agenda, health and well-being of young.

The talk sessions and debates were lively and displayed lots of youth exuberance and passion.

The key note address came from Miss Francine Furaha Muyumba, President of the Pan African Youth Union (PYU), on the theme ‘Young People, Building a Stable and Sustainable Future; Challenges and Prospects for Youth Leadership and Engagement in Africa’. According to her, the future of Africa is under threat and young people are being manipulated by various self-interest groups to fight against each other.

Francine Furaha also insisted on the fact that there can never be peace without development, and explained that is why young people must be involved in decision-making in order to avoid being used by the various terrorist organizations plaguing the continent.  The PYU president cautioned her audience not to be the generation that would destroy Africa and allow the struggles of their forefathers to go in vain. To her, African youths must be seen as opportunities and not threats, and policy-makers must ensure that the African youth is a priority in any development agenda. She ended by calling for peace and stability in Africa, reduction of the youth unemployment rate and support toward youth entrepreneurs for development in Africa.

The keynote address was followed by the agenda topics for discussion.  The first item was on the Commonwealth Youth Council and the Youth Division. Layne Robinson assured participants of the readiness of the Commonwealth Youth Division to serve as partners in development in order to help young people in their quest to impact society positively.

In the session on youth employment and entrepreneurship, delegates called on governments to encourage job creation within Africa by reducing administrative bottle necks in enterprise creation. They also called for a proportion of all government contracts to be given to young entrepreneurs, and most especially for tax systems designed to encourage businesses and not to destroy them.

With regard to youth participation, youth work, professionalization and civic education, the delegates pledged to be respectful, hardworking citizens and to shun all forms of oppressive ideologies.

The session on youths in the post-2015 development agenda ended with a very strong call for policy makers to include young people in all aspects of development as they contain enormous potential which – if utilised properly – would propel the continent to greater heights.

Finally on health and well-being of young people, a lot of emphasis was placed on the notion that without good health, young people can’t play any role in society. Therefore, there is the need to stay healthy in order to carry out their development activities efficiently. The Ebola experience of Sierra Leone was of particular interest during this session. It reiterated the need for empowerment because the majority of those who suffered the effects of the outbreak in its different phases were young people. The youths called for better health care systems, gender equality, efficient training of health workers and reduction of infant mortality by increasing the doctor to patient ratio, which is still low in many African countries.

The Commonwealth Africa Region Youth forum ended with a document which contained all the recommendations discussed above which was to be submitted to the youth ministers for endorsement.

The Youth Forum has now ended here in Yaounde, though not without its own hitches and criticisms. One of the delegates called it “an information sharing session with an imposed agenda”.

Nevertheless, the youths have made their point by proposing to the Youth Ministers what the youth on the ground think is the best way forward to build a safe and sustainable future in Africa. Youth in Africa have a bright future, but the policy makers must understand that they have to work with the youths and must put in to action their proposals.

Photo: Alphonse Akouyu

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About me:

Hello everyone this is your friend Akouyu Alphonse from Bamenda located in the North West Region of Cameroon. I’m currently in my last year in the Catholic University of Cameroon Bamenda studying Banking and Finance. I will be completing my studies in June of 2014 with the hope of becoming a Business/International Relations expert.

My areas of interest are serving as Journalist especially on Sports (football) and societal issues aimed at inspiring people to believe in themselves and volunteerism.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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