African leaders are encouraged to put in efforts to enhance youth participation and inclusion through representation at all levels of decision-making.
President Hage Geingob said this during his virtual address to the Youth Connect Africa Summit, which started in Kigali, Rwanda, today.
The summit is convening under the theme “Accelerating Investments in Youth: Resilient Youth, Resilient Africa”.
The summit was first hosted in Kigali in 2017, and has since grown into a formidable event for young people in Africa.
The President said that young Africans are more integrated and connected than at any stage in the
continent’s history, owing to improved access to the internet and mobile telephony. ‘’Digital channels and social media which have resulted in an intensification of actors and the rise of ‘Second Trade Diplomacy’”.
He emphasises that young people of Africa should embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution as part of the economic transformation of the continent.
He said in order to harness the demographic dividend, the Namibian Government is said to be in the process of implementing a cross-cutting National Youth Policy, which incorporates youth development programs.
The overall goal of the policy is to ensure that young Namibians are empowered and become self-reliant and become productive citizens through improved education, health and economic outcomes, as well as increased political participation.
Efforts have been made to include young people in the political decision-making process, with the youngest Member of Parliament, who is aged 22 and a Deputy Minister, appointed by the President in 2020 at age 23, with more young people who are members of parliament.
Quoting from Professor Joseph Stiglitz, the President said “growth that is not shared, will not be Sustainable,” stating ‘’development and information should therefore be cascaded, usingtechnology as an enabler to reach and benefit all members of societies, specifically young people at the grassroots and rural communities’’.
“The premium that I continue to place on youth inclusion, empowerment and development, is not merely political rhetoric. It should translate into Effective Governance and sustainable development.
Young people must actively participate and be meaningfully engaged in our Agenda 2063 developmental aspiration,” Geingob motivaded.
He is therefore of the view that young Africans, are the hope and future of a great continent, asserting that their countries and governments are relying on their individual and collective contributions, in order to realize the vision of a prosperous and peaceful Africa.
“This is the time to uphold the enduring value of solidarity. This is the hour to extend empathy and
spread hope. This is the hour to provide the drive and direction needed to establish the Africa We
Want”, the President emphasised.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer, the Landless Peoples Movement Youth Leader Duminga Ndala, commended the President on his call for youth participation in all strategic levels, as a sign that he is cognizant of the lack of representation within the government structures.
But she however, stated that when leaders make such statements on international stages, they need to ensure that they follow through and implement them by empowering the youth accordingly, arguing that Namibia is still falling far behind, given the low number of young parliamentarians as compared to the dominance of elders in parliament.
She says it makes no sense to advocate for youth participation and representation at strategic levels if such platforms are not reflecting the reality on the ground.