Energize Africa Initiative Advances Youth and Women To Lead Developmental Strategies

Real consultation with youth to build viable programmes will be key tomaking Energize Africa a success.

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Nardos Bekele- Thomas, the AUDA-NEPAD Chief Executive Officer hasremarked: “The Energize Africa initiative is about harnessing youths’creativity and skills into the continent’s economic growth anddevelopment, whilst expanding income opportunities for the youth –through creation of jobs, innovation, and entrepreneurship.” She wasspeaking on the margins of the 77th United Nations General Assembly inNew York. The Energize Africa initiative recognises that Africa’syouth and women – making up more than half of the continent’spopulations – must be at the core of Africa’s economic growth andinclusive development strategies.The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD in partnership withAfreximbank, co-launched the AUDA-NEPAD Energize Africa initiativelast week. Moreover, Energize Africa’s focus is on young professionalsto enhance public sector efficiency; stimulate solution-focusedresearch and development, through innovation hubs, and;Entrepreneurshippportunities for Africa’s youthful populations forimproved socio-economic well-being. Prof Benedict Okey Oramah,President and Chairman of Board of Directors, Afreximbank remarkedthat, “The Energize Africa collaboration is a demonstration of thepartnership with AUDA-NEPAD towards ensuring that youth are at thecore of our development. The youth are indeed the leaders oftomorrow.” And recognising that the continent with the highestpercentage of entrepreneurs among working- age adults is Africa,AUDA-NEPAD has designed the Energize Africa initiative as acontinental platform of youth professionals, institutions, andfacilities to strengthen innovative solutions, skills development,employment, and entrepreneurship. “If we do not harness the youthdividend, it will remain a “potential.” Energize Africa is anopportunity to invest in the future of Africa,” Dr MoniqueNsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission saidduring the high-level opening session of the launch event. “Mypresence here today is meant to signal the political commitment of theAfrican Union Commission to ensure we see change on the issue of youthemployment in Africa, within the context of Agenda 2063,” DrNsanzabaganwa added. Several messages of support from Energize Africapatrons and champions were delivered during the launch. “EnergizingAfrica is indispensable to leverage Africa’s most valuable resource,its human capital. It is important for supporting start-ups to get ontheir feet and serve as long-term sources of innovation and growth –put simply, by giving young people a chance to design their future.Let us join efforts to energize Africa and build, the Africa we want,to ensure that no one is left behind,” stated Amina J. Mohammed,Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations in her message ofsupport.Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia remarked that, “Realconsultation with youth to build viable programmes will be key tomaking Energize Africa asuccess.” While Ambassador Dr John N. Nkengasong, U.S. Global AIDSCoordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy,U.S. Department of State congratulated the AUDA-NEPAD CEO on thelaunch of Energize Africa. He concurred with Ms Bekele-Thomas inhighlighting the fact that the initiative promises to mobilise youngpeople across the continent and to transform the public sector.Elaborating on the context of Energize Africa in the AfricanContinental Free Trade Area, the Secretary General of the AfCFTASecretariat, Wamkele Mene said that “The African Continental FreeTrade Area offers opportunities for seamless access to new markets,particularly in digital technologies.” The importance of strengtheningrelations between the private and public sectors in creating abrighter future for Africa’s youth was expounded on by Dr JamesMwangi, CEO Equity Bank, who committed to also championing EnergizeAfrica with AUDA-NEPAD. In addition, Messages of support for EnergizeAfrica were also received from Jean Van Wetter, Director General ofthe Belgian Development Agency and Sebastian Ashong-Katai fromEcobank. The successful launch of Energize Africa concluded with theunanimous acknowledgement that youth are partners for the sustainabledevelopment, peace, and prosperity of Africa, with a uniquecontribution to make to the continent’s present and futuredevelopment, continental leaders added.

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