BLOG: African Youth Commit to Lead Change Through Volunteerism, September 2016

United Nations Development Programme

African Youth Urge World leaders converging for TICAD VI Summit to urgently expand the space for their engagement and empowerment

More than 100 youth from across Africa, converged at the UN Complex in Nairobi on 22ndAugust 2016 at a pre-TICAD VI summit workshop to map out strategies that would ensure development needs of young people would be prioritized during the summit and its outcomes.

The event was co-hosted by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the Africa Union Commission (AUC) as a lead up to the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) summit which will be held in Kenya and for the first time on African soil since the inception of this development cooperation framing.

The convening of the workshop took inspiration from past events such as TICAD V, Rio+20 Summit and the Global South-South Development Expo where youth issues took center-stage. For Africa, with more than 65 % of its population being young people, recognizing their potential is now a natural choice for the continent to reap and harness the demographic dividends. Africa is at the nascent stage of a demographic bulge in the working age population that can confer a dividend if strategic investments in health, education, economic growth and governance are simultaneously made.

The workshop therefore was part of a series of events organized by the partners as part of their support to the TICAD VI process. The workshop provided an essential platform for the youth and high-level representatives from various volunteer organizations to deliberate and propose recommendations on the role youth volunteerism play in harnessing the demographic dividends and attainment of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the SDGs in line with the policy frameworks on youth development as detailed in the African Youth Charter.

Key organizations that participated in the event through high-level representation included JICA/JOVC, the Kenya National Volunteer Involving Organizations Society, VSO International, the Kenya Red Cross Society, Africa Peace Service Corps, World Girl Guides Association, Kenya National Youth Council, PACE International, Hope Worldwide, Peace Makers International, World Youth Parliament, Society for International Development, Manyo Foundation, Progressive Volunteers, the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps, United Nations Volunteers, Microsoft, the Kenya Volunteer Policy Secretariat among others.

The AUC participation at the event was led by the head of AU Youth Division, Ms. Prudence Ngwenya, who started off the discussions at the workshop by highlighting to the participants the need to align the youth agenda in the continent to the AUC continental agenda 2063 framework. She elaborated the key policy framework for Africa’s development set by the AUC and pointed out the key issues and action areas for youth empowerment provided by AUC. She used the example of the AUC Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) programme to highlight the Pan-African success stories of volunteerism and lessons learnt on youth empowerment.

Tapiwa Kamuruko, UNV ROA Regional Manager, further provided a framework for the conversations during the workshop by describing the background for UNV work and the linkage with TICAD VI, explaining the significance of putting youth issues at the centre of TICAD VI agenda.

Ms. Zipporah Konga, the youth programme officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Mr. Gekonge Gesake from the Kenya National Volunteerism secretariat were among the key representatives for the Kenya Government at the forum. Ms. Zipporah stressed that the Kenya Government was very keen on mainstreaming youth empowerment issues by the adopting the successful gender mainstreaming methodology.

Speaking as a representative of the private sector, Ms. Winnie Karagu, the programme manager for the Skills4Africa programme at Microsoft, provided an elaborate case study of contribution of volunteerism to corporate growth for Microsoft and professional growth for the participants and beneficiaries. She emphasized that the programme has been running for more than three years with a regional scope covering many countries in Africa.

Through intensive discussions, and based on contributions from various youth and volunteer organizations, participants developed an elaborate communique that touched on four key areas of youth empowerment: mapping of youth volunteering interventions in Africa; analysis of challenges affecting youth development; pathways for youth engagement and a call for enhanced investment in youth development issues.

It is hope that the communique will be presented at the UNV/AUC high-level side event to be held on Friday the26th of August 2016, and later submitted to the TICAD secretariat for input into the overall TICAD VI outcomes.

Story by Kevin Ochieng, UNV Kenya Programme Support Officer

Originally published by: United Nations Development Programme