Interviewed on “African women challenges”

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African women continue to face not only widespread poverty, but also heavy economic burdens

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On African Development and Youth Diaspora: An interview from Austria to Africa

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“African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe” project established by a group of youth workers and experts in Europe, aims to share experiences and best practices to empower youth by building their capacity, leadership skills, responsibilities and providing access to information in policy making and project initiatives, so they can truly and actively participate in their societies.

The Forum is the first of its kind held in Europe and presents a significant opportunity for African leaders and youth to network and work closely together in order to coordinate international dialogue amongst important stakeholders for African development. Specifically, through panel discussions, lectures and training sessions, tackle topics such as: access to quality jobs, entrepreneurship, economic development, Afro-Euro cooperation etc.

This year second Forum edition gathered, from 8-11 June in the United Nations Headquarters Vienna, experts, leaders, business-owners, change makers and more than 200 of young people from all around Europe and the global – toward development of African continent, as well as better position of African youth in the Diaspora.

“YouthVoice” caught up with Mr. Youssouf Simbo Diakité -the President and COE of ADYFE- for a brief chat, ahead of the youthful gathering in Vienna and ADYFE project.

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Ms. Sana: First Mr. Youssouf, we congratulate the ADYFE Committee Members on the successful event in Vienna. ADYFE had a large coverage in Europe and Africa, can you tell us briefly about the key ingredients success of ADYFE?

Mr. Youssouf: Thank you Ms. Sana for having me, this is very interesting question, and to be frank with you; ADYFE success keys could be explained in different levels, first the honest partnership and the trust among our partners; are the reason of their sustain support to our cause. Also, the presence of more than 200 participants in the forum explains their interest to be part of the change, our strategy was to make them the focal point of the decision making; we had youth representative in every ADYFE activity: in the discussion panels, workshops, trainings, moderation…

The team hard work is the fruit of ADYFE feat; we are a group of ambitious skilled young people from Europe and Africa, we work for one shared objective which is the future development. This year we had a very limited time to organize the event, but we manage to make this year forum a very successful one.

The combination of these three elements make ADYFE what it is today.

Ms. Sana: The target group of the event was “Youth Diaspora”, what does that mean to you? Why this focus on “Youth Diaspora”?

Mr. Youssouf: We are Youth Diaspora, we live in Europe but we are from Africa, we face the same challenges, and we have the same vision for the development of Africa, the focus on youth Diaspora is related to the missing gap in Africa, Youth Diaspora is the bridge connection that Africa needs and one of the answer for the African development. I believe in the Youth Diaspora contribution to the African progress in terms of remittances, direct investments and entrepreneurship, knowledge, and their diverse experiences. ADYFE believes the Diaspora has the potential to make the change that we contributing in.

Ms. Sana: Can you tell us more about the idea behind creating ADYFE?

Mr. Youssouf: The idea behind ADYFE is to create a platform where youth and experts meet and discuss the challenges of diaspora, provide them with appropriate information and also facilitate their return back home with projects in their hands. ADYFE creation was to fill in the missing gap and be the intermediate space to empower Youth Diaspora and accelerate youth programs and their capacity buildings.

The vision is to institutionalize ADYFE to make it part of the decision, to be the main network in the African development and the focal point of human and financial resources, to be the place where we can influence the decision makers and take youth recommendations into consideration.

We aim to make ADYFE the network where youth, expert, governments, promote entrepreneurship, African development, cooperation and intercultural dialogue.

Ms. Sana: Could you describe the impacts you want to achieve through ADYFE?

Mr. Youssouf: ADYFE project is part of 70000 organizations working for same objective, the impact we want to achieve is to link these organizations and work together for one same Diaspora project back home; then we will reach the Diaspora Africa Dream. If we link human power, resources, and the potential of these organizations, its impact will be huge contribution on the acceleration of the African development.

Ms. Sana: We’ve heard that ADYFE is an annual event, what are your next steps and programs for next year?

Mr. Youssouf: For the moment we want to organize a follow up program of the two editions we had, an occasion where we will study the impacts of our two editions on youth needs.

Next year event will be organized depending on the needs of the participants; we measure their needs, their appreciation, through personal evaluation where they express their ideas and recommendations.

We promise for a creative and innovative edition next year!

Ms. Sana: This year ADYFE edition was rich in terms of program sessions, workshops, panel discussions, many high-level personalities took part of the event, and we’ve heard also that many known business leaders came like Wati-b, how do you maintain this richness?

Mr. Youssouf: we make our partners, speakers and guests are part of the dialogue; we make them believe in our idea.

Each year is a new challenge; we need to come up with new innovative concept, strategic planning, and creative program sessions to maintain our partnerships. This requires a lot of work and patience.

We maintain this richness by our continuous hard work, we believe in our cause and we make them believe as well.

Ms. Sana: Very interesting! What is your vision for Africa?

Mr. Youssouf: My vision for Africa is to be peaceful continent, where everyone is empowered, equal and educated. This would have a great impact on the development of Africa; the only place where my heart beats.

Ms. Sana: Very powerful statement! Thank you so much for your devoted time, “YouthVoice” wishes you all the best for your next events.

Mr Youssouf: Thank you for having me!

Journey experience in advocacy

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Inclusive development means we work towards all young people having the opportunity to enjoy health and wellbeing, to profit from education and training, to pursue rewarding careers, and to benefit from civic and political empowerment. All the way from Zambia, Lombe has chosen advocating and lobbying to support youth understanding. She believes that everyone should be decision contributor, she believe in “right of participation”

More than 3 billion people are under 25; sustainable development cannot be fully achieved without youth angles, perspectives and mainly voices.

The qualities of youth provide us with supreme power to accept change, challenge norms, and adapt to challenging new settings.

From Zambia, Lombe Tembo, Task Team Member of Restless Development Organization organization. Sana caught up with Lombe for a brief chat, ahead of her work with Restless Development Organization.

Sana: First, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Let me congratulate you on being a model advocating for youth governance. Out of the many Africans, you have been chosen by “Youth Voice” as successful model I believe it’s because of a proven record of hard work in enhancing youth governance. Can you share a brief background of the work you do?

Lombe: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak about my experiences and share what I have learnt. I am a youth advocate based in Zambia. All of my time at the moment is dedicated to development work in a voluntary capacity. Among other roles that I take on, I am the assistant executive director of the Zambian Association of Literacy, and I am also the Chairperson of the Governance and Transparency Committee of the African Youth Movement. My role as a member of the Youth Governance and Accountability Task Team began in May 2014 when the task team members had an initial meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka during which we shared our individual experiences and learning.

Sana: Can you tell us about your experience with Restless Development Organization? How did this experience enhance your expertise in the field of advocacy and accountability?

Lombe: My experience with Restless Development has been nothing short of phenomenal. Of course there have been moments of miscommunication, which is only normal in dealing with other human beings with different opinions and feelings. The support staff has been very amazing and has shown so much support right from the inception of the Task Team

Sana: Can you share any of your advocacy activities?

Lombe: I will share one of my most recent advocacy opportunities. In May 2015, I gave a speech on behalf of the Task Team as a member of the Major Group for Children and Youth at the United Nations Interactive Civil Society Hearings. This involved highlighting the priorities for young people in the Declaration, which is a lead up to the summit in September at which the Sustainable Development Goals will officially be launched. The roundtable discussion that I was a part addressed how the Declaration of the outcome document can in a clear and visionary way articulate the objectives and priorities of the new agenda and its implementation.

The link of Lombe’s speech:

http://m.webtv.un.org/search/1st-meeting-interactive-hearings-with-civil-society-and-private-sector-%E2%80%93-post-2015-development-agenda/4258278486001?term=interactive%20hearings

Sana: In your point of view and basing on your experiences, what are the challenges facing youth advocate in African countries? Have your ever faced any difficulties advocating for youth with official government in your country?

Lombe: From my point of view, young advocates still face the challenge of not being taken seriously when they are in their own countries. They receive recognition when they are speaking on a global or regional platform but things get more difficult when they try to bring these advocacy messages back home and attempt to contextualize them. Furthermore, another challenge that is faced by young advocates is a lack of federated efforts to make their voices heard. There are instances in which there are wonderful actions happening in very small groups. If there is more coordination and communication between these groups, there would be a much larger impact. So lack of information as well as lack of access to this information is another challenge faced.

Sana: What role can activism play in youth development and what can youth learn from being involved in activism?

Lombe: Activism has the all-important role of bridging the gap between young people and decision-makers. With the wonderful support of civil society organizations, such as the ones supporting the Task Team, young people can have increased confidence and skills and can play a more active role in development at all levels.

Sana: In one sentence, what is your message for youth worldwide who want to shift the development of their countries?

Lombe: “Development is not something that is a far-fetched idea to only be discussed by adults. Be a part of the solution, it begins with you as an individual”.

“Unlocking Youth Potential”: Interviews from Europe and Africa

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Youth unemployment becomes a challenge for governments and a nightmare for youth. Youth unemployment remains a barrier for the young generation in Africa and Europe. More than 75 million young people are unemployed internationally; this number is getting bigger in Africa, as it remains the youngest continent of the world with the highest number of unemployment among youth.

This large unemployed youth population indicates lost development potential since governments fail to benefit from the young people’s contribution. Also, difficulties in finding and sustaining decent employment diminish from a young person’s lifetime productivity, which makes it even more challenging to face poverty, hunger, health issues and more social and economic issues.

I caught up with Mr. Yassine Mohamed Ennaem, President of ADYNE (African Diaspora Youth Network in Europe) to get his opinion on the subject.

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Sana: First, thank you Mr. Yassine for taking the time to chat with us, we imagine how busy you are, and we’ve been informed that you will take part of the “African Diaspora Forum in Europe” this June as a Keynote Speaker, can you share with us a brief background of the work you do?

Mr. Yassine: Thank you Sana, it is my pleasure. I’m the President of ADYNE as you have mentioned Our target group to serve is mainly the African Diaspora community, thought we always make sure that other backgrounds and no African youth are present, our work is devoted to provide them with opportunities and skills, to motivate them and inspire them to change their situations in Europe to a better one, not only that but also to contribute to the society and to the development of their countries of living and Origin, and here allow me to tell that this was The vision of ADYNE since we created it “ to create a world where every African Diaspora youth in Europe can unite as Global Citizens to contribute to the sustainable development of both continents”

Sana: Amazing, as you know the forum is tackling a very challenging topic which is the youth unemployment among Africans living in the Diaspora, based on your case and in addition for being active in the Diaspora, you are also recognized as shifting example to the national development scale, how would you describe the current situation of Africans in Diaspora in Europe?

Mr. Yassine: To be fair, the youth unemployment nowadays is a challenge faced by all Youth in Europe, therefore we cannot connect it to people with African background only, though there are cases where people with African background did not have equal opportunities as others, I would say that this is not the rule, it remains a culture that will probably take sometimes to overtake it and the best way to face this issue is by being more competitive, youth with African background in many cases they should be better than others to be given a job, if they are just equal they are not given the priority unfortunately.

I would like to stress on the fact that today we can see large number of people with African background occupying a high positions in every field and sector, director, professors, doctors, judges, Ministers, MPs etc…

It is true that most of the first generation of Africans that came to Europe, came to do jobs that Europeans did not want to do at that time, but today the situation has changed, as we have reached 5th & 6th generations of African Diaspora in Europe, the new generations are educated and as qualified as the rest.

Europe constitutes one of the continents that has the biggest African community; we are about 4.5 million in France, 2, 8 million in UK, 1 million in Italy,1 million in Spain 817,500 in Germany, more than 300,000 in Belgium…

We must acknowledge that the Diaspora is a phenomenon of our times, the Diaspora represents a huge potential for the states, and it is outstandingly situated to contribute to the boosting of the economic growth and opulence in Africa and Europe.

I hope this Forum will serve as a starting point for solutions to these related issues that will bring huge opportunities for both continents on different levels.

Sana: VAS Organization is preparing a huge forum that will gather leaders, experts, international organizations an over 200 participants from all over the Diaspora and the world, representing different organizations and groups, the objective behind is to create a bridge of connection. What are your expectations for the Afro-Euro cooperation?

Mr. Yassine: The Afro-Euro cooperation is something that has existed on papers for long time, and it remained as a wish and promise, today this vision should be an action rather than a wish and a promise, and it should be based on mutual respect and mutual benefits and the two continents have the resources and the capitals to make it a win/win case.

The African diaspora in Europe can be the bridge between Africa and Europe in this cooperation. Here I remember an African Proverb that says “alone you can go fast together we can go far”

Sana: Very powerful, in one sentence what is your best advice for youth taking part in this forum this year?

Mr. Yassine: The world is changing, and we all need to learn how to adjust, and by saying all I don’t mean the African diaspora only.

I also believe that youth should not only think of finding jobs, but they should think out of the box and try to create jobs.

Sana: Wow, very inspiring, thank you for your time. See you in Vienna!

Mr. Yassine: Thank to you Sana for having me, special thanks to VAS and all the team working hard on organizing the Forum, See you in Vienna!

Meanwhile, this year VAS organization is tackling its actions and attention to bring in innovation approaches for youth and governments to face the situation of unemployment, by providing youth a platform where they can improve their expertise and knowledge to meet the needs of the job market. VAS organization organizes an annual event where both leaders of the world and youth meet to discuss and work on ways to create solutions and opportunities for young generation to be a development contributor.

VAS’s Delegates from all over Europe and Africa are putting in final preparations ahead of the “African Diaspora Youth Forum”, hosted by United Nations in Vienna. The main theme of the forum “Unlocking Youth Potential”

From Vienna, Mr. Ibrahima Djiguine, representative of VAS organization and the Co-project manager of this year event. Sana caught up with Mr. Ibrahim for a brief chat, ahead of the forum in Vienna.

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Sana: First, thank you Mr. Ibrahim for taking the time to chat with us, it must be a very busy period now for you as the forum date is approaching, and let me congratulate you on being a model for Africans living in the Diaspora. Out of the many Africans, you have been chosen by VAS organization as successful model I believe it’s because of a proven record of hard work in enhancing the African development. Can you share a brief background of the work you do?

Mr. Ibrahim: Thank you Sana for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Our mission is to create a suitable environment for academic success, promotion of culture, encourage entrepreneurship and solidarity for positive change. I have been since a year now a member of VAS and I was the co project manager of last year’ International Youth Conference. Our work involves different fields of activities with different projects.

We organize Forums and conferences with the goal of organizing and empowering the Youth to join growing movement and raising awareness on tackling the challenges faced by the Diaspora living in Europe.

We cooperate in a network with other organizations and experts from the African Youth, Youth in general and other important stakeholders all over the world. Our recent focus in the latest conference was capacity building, coordination of projects, networking and cooperation.

Sana: What are your challenges and best success story as African living in the Diaspora?

Mr. Ibrahim: There are many challenges involved in finding opportunities to investment, employment and most of all room for creative entrepreneurs to start new businesses for sustainable growth in Africa.

We try our best to motivate millions of Diaspora to invest their Finance back home and contribute their skills to the advance. Fostering entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainable development of our countries is our ambitions and this is not found to be easy not only for Africa but other parts of the world. However through our training programs and workshops we discuss ways how the Diaspora can participate in the development of our countries mainly in policy making and decision making levels.

Sana: As an active symbol of African in the Diaspora, how would you describe the current situation of Africans in Diaspora in your home country, and how do you manage to contribute in the development of your country?

Mr. Ibrahim: To answer this question I will start by mentioning that I have good feeling in general about how the Diaspora currently contribute to the advancement of their countries.

I strongly believe that the African Diaspora’s contribution as agents of Africa’s socioeconomic change should not be measured merely in financial terms, but as inputs of skilled labor and by its ability to build bridges between countries of origin and destination which help stimulate, not only economic activity, but transfers of knowledge and cultural and social norms.

There are several ways in which I participate to the development of my country. These ways include promoting development: Through innovation, broad based networks I am taking my love for Africa and applying it with ingenuity for good.

Creating greater awareness of Africa’s development issues

  • Increasing collaboration with other African Diaspora in development and mainstream International Development organizations
  • Contribute to the increasingly irrefutable evidence and recognition of the value that the African Diaspora brings to development efforts at home.

Sana: VAS Organization is preparing a huge forum that will gather over 200 participants from all over the Diaspora and the world, representing different organizations and groups. What is your best advice for them?

Mr. Ibrahim: As this is a continuation of last year’s international youth conference which was an outstanding one, I invite all the youth to come and have the opportunity to meet and share ideas with experts as well as networking and working closely together in order to coordinate international dialogue amongst important stakeholders for African development.

Sana: What are your expectations for the “African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe”?

Mr. Ibrahim: My expectation is that after this forum I hope we will be able to make contributions to

  • Empower young people to be the shifters of the future, and to be active contributor in the political, social and economic development of Africa and Europe;
  • Create new opportunities to boost the social responsibility, integration and social entrepreneurship by enhancing Africa/Europe Youth Cooperation projects.
  • Establish a connection among young people, policy‐makers and the social partners to empower youth development in both regions Africa/Europe;
  • Share and exchange the best practices on youth employment, civic participation to meet the MDGs goals;

Sana: Very exciting, I have no doubt that VAS forum will be successful. Thank you for your time. See you in Vienna!

Mr. Ibrahim: Thank you for having me!

If women’s entrepreneurship was not only a female Agenda!

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A number of studies and researches over the past years have highlighted that gender equality is a smart economic tool. The unexploited potential of women is a lost opportunity for economic progress and development. Women’s economic participation promotes agricultural productivity, enterprise expansion at the micro and macro, small and medium enterprise levels, in addition to improving business management and returns on investments.

Besides boosting economic growth, investing in women has multiplier effects; women plow a large portion of their income in their families and communities. Women play crucial role in creating peaceful and stable societies which are important factors for economic growth. Regrettably, even these benefits have been universally recognized and have therefore not translated into women’s full economic participation, especially in Africa, where women still face obstacles when establishing new businesses or even increasing existing ones. Among the biggest obstacles are discriminatory laws, regulations and business conditions, with women’s lack of access to property rights, finance, training, technology, markets, mentors, and networks. We can only imagine one of the reasons behind the lack of economic development of Africa when half of the population is discriminated from full participation in the economic level.

Although there has been current focus on developing women’s entrepreneurship in Africa, this spotlight has been on growth-oriented women’s businesses. Women’s entrepreneurship in micro and small business that are often measured as informal, regardless of these concentrated efforts of poverty reduction initiatives through increased access to skills training and micro-credit, still have not been able to reach the growth potential among women.

The role of women in African economies is more emphasized in recent years by ensuring gender equality and women empowerment among Africans. But the fact is that women have less access to resources, education and health facilities in most of the African countries, where women are half the workforce. Greater participation of women in economic activities is the major concern of most of the countries in Africa, which is considered as one of the best tools to achieve and attain a sustain development in Africa. Africa cannot manage to attain a development if half of its population is discriminated and ignored from local and national policies.

African governments need to show more financial aid to support efforts to increase women’s access to quality financial services; there is an urge need to highlight women’s crucial role in advancing agricultural development and food security, and encourage policy and programmatic support for female farmers and agricultural businesses owned by women, and reform the policy to facilitating the processes for women in this field.

More support to NGOs, industry associations, and corporations advocating for policy and programmatic solutions that would enable women’s economic participation, also enhance more technology Access and providing access to mobile phones, Internet, and other vital technologies along with addressing cultural, financial, educational barriers…

Provide capacity building, trainings, and mentoring programs to women and girls and equip them with market information, entrepreneurship opportunities, and the necessary skills to attain economic independence; and Encourage best practices to increase women’s leadership in the sector of business and entrepreneurship;

Government states need to find a solution to one of the biggest obstacles in Africa which is Data Collection; endorse the collection and configuration of gender data in the economic sector to create evidence-based policy and programs aimed at increasing women’s economic participation across all sectors.

If women’s entrepreneurship was not only a female Agenda, Africa would be different.

African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe !! Apply

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#‎VASOpportunity‬ ‪#‎ApplyToADYFE‬

‪#‎VAS‬ is pleased to inform you about our event “African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe” that will take place the 9-10 June 2015 in Vienna.

The Forum is the first of its kind held in Europe and presents a significant opportunity for African leaders and youth to network and work closely together in order to coordinate international dialogue amongst important stakeholders for African development. Specifically, through panel discussions, lectures and training session, conference will tackle topics such as: access to quality jobs, entrepreneurship, economic development etc.

More details the call can be found from here:
http://www.vas-oesterreich.at/youth-in-diaspora-a-means-t…/…

If you would like to participate, please refer to the attached Call for Participants and the Application Form for more details. We would be happy to provide you with further information and reply potential questions by email, if you decide to honor us with your participation.

Youth Policy in Africa: a promising future for the African development?

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This article was published on Foresight For Development: http://www.foresightfordevelopment.org/featured/gender-equality-2

“There is nothing about youth, without youth”  – Sana Afouaiz

Young people are perceived to be an important strength of Africa, as well as globally. This urges a necessity for practical policies and related programs that engage youth successfully in all aspects of growth of their countries.

Today, Africa needs more than ever to address the necessity of implementing youth policies to support the development and inclusion of the young generation. One of the biggest challenges facing governments in Africa is providing employment opportunities for more than 200 million young people so that they can have decent lives and contribute to the social and economic development of their countries.

The establishment of youth policies in Africa is quite difficult because of limited data which delays the measurement of the well-being of the African youth. Although the available data says that the youth population is largely growing, African youth has educational attainment but at the same time high unemployment rates.

Also, the lack of a universal definition of “youth” makes measuring the youth problems in Africa more difficult and the comparison of data across countries less consistent. The youth population in Africa consists of about 200 million – 20 percent of its population of more than 1 billion. This is a very large population.

In order to find effective youth policies, it is important to deal with the challenges facing youth, such as the lack of access to quality education; high rates of unemployment; and huge numbers of people suffering from poverty, political non-engagement and poor environmental health.

Previous policies and actions implemented have not successfully addressed the challenges of the youth, for example, the high unemployment rates, especially among women with significant regional differences and unpleasant consequences such as poverty, migration and diseases. Moreover, information on the development and implementation of youth policies in Africa are hard to find, even though countries of the region are at different stages in their youth policies process. Nevertheless, the estimation of problems facing young people is being compromised by data limitations. These limitations are reflected in the lack of jobs and youth economic growth agendas; a lack of comprehensive youth policy and the absence of its integration into national development plans. The African governments lack the capacity to assume comprehensive monitoring and evaluative processes.

An overview of the situation in African countries – although regions may differ – highlights several priority areas, particularly education, employment, health conditions and political participation, in addition to gender issues.

The economic issues concerned include how to deal with the huge youth unemployment rates by using an integrated approach and implementing various labor market policies. In order to achieve that, the national policies need to foster formal education – quality education – and training to increase opportunities for skilled youth who are ready for the job market.

In most African countries, cultural oppressions limit opportunities for youth to express themselves and to meaningfully participate in national social and political dialogue. Broad-based participation of the youth would advance good governance to improve democracy in the region.

There is a lack of comprehensive youth policies which are not part of the national development plans because neither human nor financial resources are devoted to youth issues. This has resulted in governments lacking the capacity to assume comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of processes.

The key recommendations arising from this analysis spotlight on harnessing the potential of African youth to boost economic development in the labor market to improve their living conditions. Also, boosting their participation in the political level is important in order to meet their needs.

It is important to expand infrastructure, especially in rural areas, to boost employment opportunities for youth;

Provide quality education for young people, training and informal programs and create youth employment opportunities for skilled persons;

African governments need to build institutional quality policies so as to respond effectively to the needs of individuals and organizations.

One of the most important steps in advancing the youth policy field in Africa is to develop the quality and scope of data of youth in Africa. Lack of reliable data leads to non-understanding of the issues and thus the inability to solve them: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

It is highly recommended for policy-makers to establish a continuous evaluation approach in which they can test whether policies and actions have an impact on youth.

Also, governments need to include gender issues in their policies because females have been neglected despite their potential to contribute to the wealth of African countries.

Africa’s youth population is expected to grow in the upcoming years while the youth population in other parts of the world declines. Africa is the youngest continent in the world with about 70 percent of its population being 30 years of age or younger.

It is time to stand up, act and change! There will be no future development in Africa if its countries don’t invest in their youth. The richness of Africa is in its youth – something to appreciate and save.

 Sana AFOUAIZ