With considerable interest, many might not know that the 1st November is an important day for African Youth. The simple reason is that African youth are the continent’s biggest resources and are at the centre of the development agenda across the continent. The African Youth Charter was adopted through an executive council’s decision during the Banjul Summit held in 2006, to take the 1st November as African Youth Day.
The day recognizes a unified voice of young people, which aims to increase awareness of, commitment to and investment in youth; increase and strengthen youth participation and partnerships, as well as increase intercultural exchanges and understanding among young people of Africa.
With the immense potential of over 420 million young people aged between 15 and 35 years (35% of Africa’s population), some of the ways to develop their capacities and reap the fruits is to strengthen relationships with youth, and equip them with the spaces needed to amplify their voices to audiences of influence while confronting the existing barriers that compromise meaningful youth engagement.
The African Union Commission (AUC), along with the rest of the world, recognizes the centrality of youth to achieving the aspirations of Agenda 2063. It is for this reason that Aspiration (6) of continental Agenda 2063 affirms that the Africa We Want is “An Africa, whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.”
Together with the African Youth Charter and the roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth, the Agenda 2063 and its youth- centric action plans serve as continental frameworks which reflect the prioritization of youth development by the African Union Commission and AU Member States.
To accelerate the continued development and empowerment of Africa’s youth, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mousa Faki Mahamat, launched what is referred to as the “One Million Next Level (1mNL)” initiative with aims to reach 300 million young people with opportunities in health and wellbeing, education, employment, entrepreneurship, and engagement (4Es+H).
It has a high multiplier flagship to achieve its value proposition of The 1 Million Next Level initiative seeks to catalyze action for youth development in Africa, through providing unique young Africans with opportunities in these areas. By empowering these young individuals through knowledge-building initiatives and entrusting them with leadership roles, their potential can effectively be harnessed while simultaneously nurturing human capital to propel progress.
At the very core of the initiative are the principles of Pan-Africanism, strategic partnerships and Africa-centric innovation and solutions, co-created and driven by Africa’s youth, towards creating sustainable structures.
It is against this backdrop that the African Union Commission through the Women, Gender, and Youth Directorate (WGYD) is commemorating African Youth Day 2023 through month-long activities under the theme “1 Million Next Level is Knocking: Youth-led Movement that Transcends Borders.”
The theme is a call to all youth development stakeholders, member states, and partners to mobilize, implement and support the 1 Million Next Level Initiative through creating and accelerating opportunities for youth in the 4Es +H. The focus of the 1 Million Next Level Initiative on 4Es + H is underpinned by a firm foundation of strategic partnerships among stakeholders, and acknowledges young people beneficiaries and partners.
It is therefore imperative to create platforms that celebrate Africa’s youth and showcase their invaluable contributions to the development of the continent while ensuring inclusive youth engagement.
The basic objectives include the following:
* to highlight and showcase young people and their contribution towards an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.
* to empower young people through training, capacity development, and opportunities to thrive in various spaces, including health and wellbeing, engagement, education, employment, and entrepreneurship.
* to create platforms for young people to connect, share ideas, collaborate on projects, and build networks that can support their personal and professional development.
It is highly recommended that Africa Youth mark November in the following activities:
(i) Youth Forums for young people to physically gather and discuss challenges that affect them, share ideas, and propose solutions in the areas of the 4Es+H as well as the theme of the month.
(ii) Profiling of Youth who have accomplished outstanding contributions in various socio-political and economic spheres (e.g. entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, researchers, leaders, etc.) in a month-long social media campaign.
(iii) Skill and capacity development workshops and training sessions to capacitate young people with essential skills such as entrepreneurship, digital skills and jobs, financial literacy, and intellectual property and royalties. Capacity development resources can be accessed through Trace Academia at https://traceacademia.com/.
(iv) Community Service Projects to encourage women and young people to engage in community service projects, such as Clean up exercises, Community outreach and support programs etc that address local issues as well as the theme of the year.
(v) Youth Recognition and Awards to celebrate the achievements of outstanding young individuals or youth organizations in various fields, such as in health and wellbeing, education, employment, entrepreneurship, and engagement (4Es+H).
Member states, stakeholders, youth organizations and networks have the flexibility to tailor the events according to the resources and logistical capacities at their disposal.
The Africa Youth Month 2023 Activities: to mark the celebration of the Africa Youth Month at country-level, AUC is proposing to all member states, Africa’s Youth on the continent and in the diaspora, UN Agencies and Development Partners, youth-led and youth-serving organizations, private enterprises, and any interested groups to celebrate Africa’s youth through any activities that will empower the youth across Africa.