The African Union Commission says Africans must have a mindset change and invest in its youth population to enable them help in transforming the continent into a major global player. The AU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Victor Harison made the appeal in a goodwill message to the 27th annual Board of Governors meeting of the African Capacity Building Foundation in Yaounde.
This year’s meeting is focusing on developing critical skills for youth employment in Africa.
With a youthful population among which 45 percent are under the age of 20 years and likely to double by 2050, the commissioner said the youth would need to be prepared to take their place in the world by giving them the training that would make them employable.
“Africa is the cradle of humanity and Africa is the future of humanity,” Prof. Harison said during a high panel discussion seeking solutions to the challenge. “We are the future of humanity. We have the duty to prepare the future in the history of humanity.”
He said the desired change would come if the youth develop critical skills by studying subjects such as mathematics and information technology. In addition, with the right type of encouragement and training, the African youth would be able to develop the continent and produce most of the goods consumed there, he said.
At present, Africa is producing 18 percent of its goods while it contributes a very negligible portion of globally manufactured products. If the African youth is given additional training, they will turn the situation around, he said. Not only that, his dream is to see Africa on the ascendancy among the continents of the world, he said.
Giving reference to Bill Gates and other successful entrepreneurs in the world today who dropped out of school to develop breakthroughs in technology, Prof. Harison attributed their success to the opportunity they were given to be creative. He therefore called on all Africans to allow their children to have the freedom to study what they are passionate about.
“The message of AU is to invest in our youth. Give them the opportunity to accomplish their dreams. We need to support them,” said the Commissioner. “We need to prepare our youth. Youth don’t lack initiatives. They need to pull resources together.”
With the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), by as many as 45 countries now, Prof. Harison said Africa is at the crossroads of diversifying its economy. The AfCFTA agreement is a giant market that is currently dominated by foreign goods, but with a better trained youth workforce and affordable cost of energy among other inputs, it could be the driving force for Africa’s transformation, he said. However, he warned that if we train them and don’t engage them, they will migrate to other continents because migration is a reality of life experienced throughout the history of mankind.