By James Tasamba
KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - African youth have been called upon to make an effort to tap into the continent’s available opportunities designed for their growth.
This came up Wednesday at the opening of this year’s YouthConnekt Africa Summit in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
“While there is responsibility for governments to create the best environment for youth, know that there is your role to play, because even if you were in a place where the government is doing its best and providing everything, that’s not enough until you the young people are making an effort to tap into what’s available for you to grow yourself,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the youth in a keynote address.
“Opportunity does not go to people's homes knocking at their doors and saying ‘Hello, do you need me?’ People need to go knocking on opportunity's door. You open and say ‘hello’ and the opportunity will actually say: ‘I am here. What do you want?’”
This year’s summit drew about 10,000 young people from across the African continent and beyond.
The summit focuses on connecting skills development to meet emerging market opportunities to address the growing youth employment demand in Africa.
One third of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged between 15-35 are unemployed and discouraged and only one in six is in wage employment, according to the African Development Bank.
Ahunna Eziakonwa, assistant secretary-general and director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) regional bureau for Africa, called for more investment in youth.
“Across the continent, we are not investing enough in their development, in their skills. More effort needs to be done to invest in our young people,” Eziakonwa said.
“With more partnerships, we can accelerate investment in young people towards the transformation of the continent,” she added.
Dester Zeogar Wilson, Liberia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, called for innovation among Africa’s youth and collaboration among countries to address joblessness.
The future of Africa lies with young people, he said.
The YouthConnekt Africa Summit is arguably the biggest gathering of youth in Africa.
In its third edition, this year’s event attracted delegates from around 100 countries in Africa and beyond.
The summit, which runs until Friday, is being hosted by the government of Rwanda in partnership with the UNDP.
Participants include government representatives, top executives from the private sector, leaders of civil society organizations, development partners, members of academia and successful young entrepreneurs.
The summit is to feature a combination of informative high-level plenaries, panel discussions, keynote speeches, research presentations and project pitching and awards.