Africa is a blessed continent. A large number of its population is young and youth occupy two thirds of its population. This explains the continent’s main source of power for economy liberation.
It has been argued that unlike previous generations who fought for political liberation, the new generation is lucky because the big job is some how done.
Panelists during the RPF International Conference On Liberation as the party marks its 30th anniversary, discussed how to pass on the spirt of liberation to the young African generation.
“Youth are quite fortunate to have been born at just this particular moment in history because a lot of work has been done by the previous generations. The way was paved for this new generation up to now. The new generation has either to take this opportunity or lose it,” said Fred Swaniker founder of African Leadership University from Ghana.
Swaniker argued that the battle for the young generation is to fight for economic liberation because previous generation brought more political liberation and now the big challenge is that Africans still depends, economically, on the rest of the world.
He said that the good thing is that the African continent is an entrepreneurs’ paradise therefore there is hope that solutions will not primarily come through government or any aid but from entrepreneurship.
It was also argued that African economic dependency allows and facilitates it to be recolonised indirectly by powerful countries.
This is due to many factors such as urbanization, whereby 800 million people are migrating into cities. The question to answer is how issues like housing, sanitation, water, among others, will be handled in the next 40 years.
Besides, there are big challenges in education sector, health care and infrastructure.
Among other problems also raised by panelists is the demographic explosion as Africa has a population of 1.3 billion people.
Jeanine Munyeshuli, an economist from the Rwandan Diaspora emphasised on the need to be aware of the dynamics of the population on the continent.
“Whichever liberation, whichever achievement we want, any progress will have to deal with these demographic dynamics,” she said, adding that, “I think one of the foundations and its main idea behind the liberation war was generosity. This generosity has yet to be translated into economic terms.”
She noted that if the right policies are put in place, and the delivery capacity built, impact will happen.
“We are seeing it here, we are a panel of three women and three men, women are well represented in Rwanda. It’s not a random thing but a policy.”
Notably, she also argued that the term diaspora is not appropriate because they are simply a Rwandan community who live abroad holding different passport but the ID has been always more significant.
Dr Lonzen Rugira, a researcher in public governance, recommended that the new generation to draw on previous generation’s achievements with clarity of purpose, suggesting that it only happens when there is the ability but guided by the stewardship of proper leadership.
Despite all those problems, the continent acknowledges that there are many opportunities every African should be aware of especially the youth who are Africa’s main resource.
However, Fred Swaniker said while those opportunities are available for young entrepreneurs, they are only exploited by those who think about creating jobs.
He mentioned agriculture. He said there is still land that is not cultivated while there is plenty rain abundant sunshine. Why, he questioned, would there be billions of dollars in imported food market yet that could be grown on the continent.
“Agro-business can improve yield by applying technology,” he said.
Tourism can be well managed by reviewing nature resources, empowering women, arts design and culture, the choice is in new generations’ hands.
“It’s up to these new generations to say that we are problem solvers and every one pick one problem to solve, when we create jobs to ourselves, we create jobs to people and we bring our continent to prosperity.”
The international conference brought together around 1,000 delegates, global leaders and scholars among others.
The forum was held under the theme: “Liberation and transformation: realizing a dignified and prosperous Africa.”
The three main thematic areas were: Liberation, Transformation and Self-Reliance.