President Paul Kagame has called upon African leaders to put the youth at the forefront for the continent to achieve its development agenda.
The head of state made the call while opening the largest gathering of young Africans in the interaction that brought over 9,000 youths from across the continent.
Kagame who was joined by Kenya’s Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua, urged leaders to confront the setbacks that hinder Africa’s development agenda and prosperity.
He emphasized that the youth can play a tremendous role in handling problems once their leaders give them space and listen to them.
He noted that there is immense opportunities to be exploited contrary to a narrative that Africa is full of problems. “We have to deal with our own problems but we are not a continent of problems. Africa is not a continent of problems. Not at all,” Kagame said.
According to Kagame, Africans have the capacity to deal with their problems and youth are too capable enough to contribute towards finding the solutions threatening the continent.
He said; “Africa is not a ‘content of problems’, Not all all. Yes, there are problems, but why don’t you find problems? The world over, there are problems, but we are not the continent of problems. At least, we must as leaders do our part to recognize that young people are equal partners in our development agenda.”
Kagame said African youth are endowed with unique talents that can be used as tools to handle contemporary problems threatening the continent.
“We know you know you have ideas on how to trade more effectively build a stronger health system, combat climate change, reduce inequality and much more. We, therefore, have to listen to you and work with you,” he said.
He, however, posed a challenge to the youth to inculcate the virtues of discipline for them to be successful in whatever they do.
“Hard work, even if it is smart to work as well, without purpose, is not fulfilling. Therefore, we must bear in mind, our purpose, who we are, what we want to be, where we want to go, and all that drive in our minds by having a purpose.” Kagame said urging the youth to be guided by discipline “May I add that, with that purpose, you can add a little bit of discipline. Discipline guides us, measures and lets us know excess we have to deal with, whether it’s personal or at the level of society.”
He urged the youth to give it a try and apply the virtues of discipline.
“…..So let’s try a little bit in our daily lives. it will serve us well. It helps people think, and put value at every step of their way. It guides us in the right direction whether it is politics. There is a bit of discipline, is a bit of discipline. Whichever part of life, it should involve a bit of that. Of course, everything in its access has it own problems. So again am saying just try even a little bit and we will be where we want to be,” Kagame said.
Kenya’s Deputy President, Rigathi Gachagua also echoed Kagame’s speech and said Africa cannot achieve its prosperity if thr youth are left outside.
“The truth is, outside of young people, Africa is not going to discover any new significant forces or resources for transformative growth especially living as we are in a time in history when the world is shaking off a global pandemic, adapting to climate change and the crisis of food and insecurity and high cost of living,” Kenya’s vice president said.
He noted the youth are the majority in Africa therefore they must be given priority.
“Realizing the demographic dividend of the continent where the majority is young, the first fruit of the harvest must go to the young people. This is the only way to empower our people. Investing in youth as our administration sees it begins pressing with youth agenda in predominant positions of our development agenda.”
With an illustration of the legal instruments that empower the youth, Gachagua said the states must ensure the implementation of the respective framework.
Kenyan constitution expressly provides that the state must take measures to ensure full participation by the young people in the social and political-economic life of our nations.
Furthermore, he called for the implementation of youth policies such as international instruments such as international conventions on economic and social rights to which Kenya is a signatory, East African Youth Policy, African union agenda 2063, and the United Nations Youth 2014 among others.
The Youth Connekt is sponsored by the UNDP and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).