Tuesday 12 November 2019 was Africa Youth Month Celebration. Themed ‘One million by 2021. Count me in’, the celebration was hosted by the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, for all Nigerian youth. YALI Abuja was in attendance and below is a speech from our Coordinator, Enite Young.
Over 75% of Africa’s 1.2 billion inhabitants under the age of 35, and 453 million Africans aged 15-35. Africa’s Youths have a huge role to play in the development outcomes of Africa.
The challenges Africa faces in education, employment, health, and governance are most acutely felt by Africa’s youth.
The 2019 Africa Youth Month (AYM) theme is a clarion call to all youth development stakeholders – governments, international organizations, development partners, private sector, civil society, and all African youth on the continent and in the diaspora – to stand up and be counted as drivers of the 1 Million by 2021 initiative towards youth empowerment.
The focus of the 1 Million by 2021 Initiative on Education, Employment,
Entrepreneurship and Engagement is underpinned by a firm foundation of strategic partnerships among stakeholders, and acknowledges young people beneficiaries and partners. The aim of Africa Youth Month 2019 is to amplify a unified youth movement to transform education, employment, entrepreneurship and engagement. Correspondingly, the 2019 AYM theme also calls upon governments and partners to mobilize and support the 1 Million by 2021 Initiative through creating and accelerating opportunities for youth in the 4Es.
The Africa Youth month theme for me in simple terms means solidarity and support for a course that benefits the youths, and in turn benefits the continent. It means ‘I stand with youths’, I will make this happen’. This is a lofty goal. One million by 2021: Count me in! it simply means all hands on deck, working together to transform, education, entrepreneurship, employment and engagement and create opportunities for youths.
WHAT IS YALI ? ROLE OF YALI IN THE 4Es ?
The Young African Leaders Initiative is a signature investment in the next generation of Leaders in Africa. It was launched in 2010 to support young African Leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance and enhance peace and security across Africa. Under YALI, we have the:
a. YALI Regional Leadership center
b. Mandela Washington fellowship
c. YALI Network Face-to-Face
I will be speaking about the YALI Network Abuja of which I am the coordinator and more familiar with. The YALI Abuja network is a group of young persons who are using their time, skills and resources to make positive impact in Nigeria. Our focus areas are Entrepreneurship, civic engagement and Leadership.
How we are doing with regards to the 4Es?
We host mentorship and learning events for youths. We share scholarship opportunities with our members. We also have our members who organize educational and learning projects in different schools. The YALI Network platform provides access to free online courses on entrepreneurship, leadership and civic engagement.
Some of our members are business owners. Beyond trainings and mentorship on entrepreneurship, we encourage our members to collaborate, do business with one another and grow bigger. We support our members business through patronage and referrals. For the conferences, trainings and events that we organize, we give priority to vendors or members with businesses. From event décor to catering, printing and even media.
We have organized several programs on career growth, how to package your CVs etc, While these are good, we have noticed that they do not automatically translate to jobs. Right now, we are adopting a new approach which is to train our members with skills that people will pay for such as report writing, marketing, sales, social media marketing, digital content creation, and data analysis. Also our first internship program is underway. This will give some selected youths the opportunity to practice their skills in structured organizations while earning a stipend.
We have been involved in several community engagement – environmental cleaning, community health outreach tour, women economic empowerment program, Naija votes which was a civic sensitization program on peaceful elections. Also active in the promotion and clamour for the not too young to run bill now law. Some our our members are actively participating in electoral processes and even running for office.
With regards to engagement, our philosophy has been if we are not invited to the table, we make our own table and in line with this YALI network has hosted Youth summits where youths from the 36 states of Nigeria share from their engagement with their different communities on how we can make Nigeria better. The theme for this year was ‘Youth inclusion in Government policies for sustainable development’
We have taken steps to engage with our communities and make impact without government support. Next year we have more exciting stuff as we would be looking at getting youths from idea to action, our youth impact challenge will be launched soon and so many exciting things we have lined up. We have scheduled trainings on monitoring and evaluation, project management, fund Raising to get our members more actively engaged in Nigeria’s development. We also have our Night of impact and awards where we evaluate our performance, celebrate and honour our members who have made great impact within the year.
One million by 2021? YALI has been on the mission and definitely in. count YALI in.