Ghana’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Ambassador Edward Boateng is the latest diplomat to emphasize the importance of nurturing Africa’s youth and providing them with opportunities for growth and leadership.
Speaking to participants at the 2019 edition of Africa Dialogues; an annual gathering of African and Chinese diplomats, corporates and students in Beijing, Ambassador Boateng shared the African success story and indicated that aggressive participation of young people in entrepreneurship, governance, civil society and education amongst others is what is needed to ensure a sustained development agenda.
Ambassador Boateng mentioned that the contribution of Africa’s youth is central to the successes of the African Union (AU)’s Agenda 2063 aspirations. He added that Aspiration 6 of the AU Agenda states, “We aspire for an Africa where development is people-driven, unleashing the potential of women and youth”.
“To achieve a united, strong and developed Africa free from conflicts, young people must be actively engaged and nurtured to develop talents, dreams and aspirations. Most young people want to live a decent life and be able to raise their families and therefore if the environment is enabling with fair laws, justice systems and a concerted effort at implementation, Africa’s story in 20 years will be different” he said. “Africa needs passionate people dedicated to the development of the continent and therefore, it is a responsibility of all Africans, governments and institutions to be committed to this course.”
The Ambassador to China implored African students and leaders of start-ups present to return home after completion of their programmes and attainment of their goals in China and contribute to the development of their countries and by extension Africa.
He noted “We speak about the Chinese and how they have been able to build their country in one generation (40 years); but honestly, who were the builders? It is the youth and young ones who worked hard and implemented the policies and decisions after the 1970 reform and opening up. The current leaders of China in business, government etc. were young people in the 1970’s; who developed themselves and prepared for the booming opportunity that was ahead. It included those who left China temporarily for studies and training. Similarly, I entreat you to be forward thinking and realize the opportunities Africa’s current policies such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCfTA) brings”.
Ambassador Boateng added ‘Africa’s median age is 19.4years and therefore the gains of AFCfTA, AU’s Agenda 2063 and other futuristic policies in individual member countries will be achieved by the youth and benefits enjoyed thereof”.
According to the Brookings Institute, AfCFTA if implemented well, will enable Africa have a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7trillion in 2030 whilst the continent’s manufacturing sector is projected to double in size with an annual output of $ 1 trillion by 2025 and over 14 new million jobs. It is therefore imperative that Africa’s youth develop and prepare adequately to ensure resounding local participation and benefits accordingly.
Ambassador Boateng anchored his message on the need for self-development and education, sharing the Nana Akufo Addo-led government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) policy details with participants and explained that such policies provide an equal and common platform for every child to have access to education and added that Irrespective of the initial implementation challenges akin to many global policy trajectories, we cannot underestimate and quantify the value to Ghana and Africa in future.
The Kenyan Ambassador to China; Ms. Sarah Serem also expressed confidence in the African youth and proposed that leadership opportunities be made available to the youth to successfully lead the next generation of Africans.
Themed “This is Africa; a thriving hub for Global Talents and Innovation”, the 2019 Africa Dialogues was organized by Duapa Africa and focused on Africa’s technology, people, culture and tourism to reshape the thoughts and perceptions about the continent.
Other diplomats and dignitaries present at the event were Mr. Elisio Benedito Jamine; Senior Political, Peace and Security Officer at the AU Permanent Mission to China, Mr. Edwin Limo; Counsellor at the Kenyan Embassy in China, Ms. DeSouza Nadege; Counsellor at Benin’s Embassy in China, Dr. Luo Zhuowei, Deputy Director at the Investment Promotion Centre of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and Mr. Xinliang Zhao, Director of Haidian Pioneer Park.