Delivering the African Dream of Youth Inclusion and Participation

  • Elone Natumanya Ainebyoona

The African continent has a population of nearly 1.3 billion people, or 16 percent of the global population. Without engaging young people, the African dream of achieving several global commitments centered on advancing good governance, gender equality, economic growth and quality education for example will not see the light of the day, as nearly 60 percent of the continent is below the age of 25.

The good news is that young people across the African continent are already getting organized to participate, and demand for inclusivity through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the United Nations, the SDGs are the “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” and these goals help both government and civil society organizations work together to help alleviate poverty and promote peace and justice by 2030.  

From November 7-9, young people across Africa gathered in Accra, Ghana for the 2nd African Youth SDGs Summit to deliberate on creating the kind of Africa they want. The two-day conference explored “Partnership with Youth to Achieve the SDGs: Moving from Policy to Action,” and brought together close to 1,000 people, of which 80 percent were young people below the age of 35 years, from 43 African countries.

This was a critical space for young leaders like me who want to challenge young people to be leaders at the forefront of demanding for accountability, good governance, democracy and rule of law as the foundation of development.

As a coordinator of the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA), an accountability platform for youth advocacy in Parliament and other government agencies, I strive to ensure participation and inclusivity of young people in policy and legislative processes towards the overall development of our country.

Besides inspiring young people, I also learn from the extraordinary work they are doing to transform their countries. The Summit provided me the opportunity to speak to young people across the continent and meet the “Not Too Young to Run” team that has transformed the legal and political space in West Africa by advocating for spaces and pathways that promote the leadership of young people in political processes.. Launched by Generation Democracy alum, Samson Itodo, Not Too Young to Run has turned into a global campaign that has led to constitutional reform in Nigeria that resulted in lowering the age to run for office. I hope to champion this campaign in Uganda and the East African region.

Being part of the Generation Democracy network has provided me with a platform to meet young leaders across the world, and with professional development opportunities I can tap to help share my work and interact with other young Africans ready to be the face of democracy on the continent.

The Summit helped me extend the reach and raise the profile of Generation Democracy. It is critical for programs like Generation Democracy to not only grow their networks of young leaders, but also find ways to help their members drive the platform and serve as ambassadors of good governance.

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