Nothing can be done for the youth without the youth, said First Lady Jeannette Kagame, while addressing a session at the YouthConnekt conference on Friday.
The session themed: “Pathways to Development: Civic Engagement & Volunteerism”, had Youths from across Africa, leaders in government, civil society and development partners discussing the importance of civic engagement and volunteerism in community and national development.
The First Lady, who was the guest of honor, said the youth are Africa’s most valued asset, making up 1.8 billion of the world’s population.
60% of Africans are under the age of 25, making Africa the youngest continent on the globe.
Jeannette Kagame said there must be active engagement of youths in all spheres of life that are essential for Africa’s collective development and growth since they represent a large percentage of the labor force.
“Policies that do not integrate them, are compromising overall development,” she said.
She emphasizing the importance of the youth in determining the future of the African continent. “You are poised to be a determinant factor in the transformation of our continent and the pathway to sustainable peace and prosperity. Your presence must count for something; your energy must define and shape the destiny of our continent.”
Following this morning's @YouthConnektAf session on civic engagement and volunteerism, First Lady Jeannette Kagame joins the session themed: 'Celebrating International Day of the Girl Child-Teenage Pregnancy: Why are we still talking about it?' pic.twitter.com/97HPbJikMZ
— First Lady of Rwanda (@FirstLadyRwanda) October 11, 2019
She also reminded the youth that to embrace voluntarism, which is not a new concept in Africa, and that it is a noble endeavor.
“Volunteerism is certainly not new to our continent. Our traditional practices are rooted in the importance of the community, and the resulting duty we owe to one another, to alleviate the inequalities of this world,” she said.
Dr. Tapiwa Kamuruko, the UN Volunteers Regional Manager for Africa, said that volunteerism is a resource that has not been tapped into extensively in Africa, and yet could help many countries achieve their national goals, “Much as we are doing volunteerism we need to approach it with purpose, we need to see how we can drive purposeful volunteerism to push the SDGs and the Agenda 2030. The past year the UN Volunteers has been working on programs to improve this.”
Meanwhile the First Lady ended her remarks by commending African leaders and decision makers, the world over, who are progressively revisiting and reinforcing strategies to effectively harness the dynamic potential of the youth as key partners of development.