Earlier this month, seven ONE Champions and one ONE staff member attended the YouLead Africa Summit in Arusha, Tanzania, where they discussed the future of the continent and the importance of youth representation.
The YouLead Summit is an annual forum of young leaders, mentors, government policymakers, civil society, and other partners from all over Africa to craft responses to the continent’s rapidly growing youth population, their challenges, and opportunities.
Happening since 2017, the forum is the highlight event to the Youth Leadership Program, which is jointly hosted by the MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation, the East African Community, and Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation. With over 250 young leaders in attendance, the theme of this year’s summit was “The Future of Africa: Creating Jobs, Feeding, and Housing the World’s Youngest Continent.”
A recap of this year’s summit
Afrikana Njuru, a ONE staff member, represented ONE at the Under 40 Political Leaders Forum where she highlighted the need for youth representation in politics and policy-making initiatives.
Each of this year’s sessions focused on the importance of youth representation across Africa, Such sessions included the Under 40 Business Leaders Forum, the East Africa Tubonge, and the inaugural Arusha Debates, with this year highlighting Youth Inclusion in the AfCFTA.
Leaders of various organizations across the continent were also in attendance, like President Jakaya Kikwete, the patron of YouLead, Tanzanian Prime Minister KassimMajaliwa, and EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki. Messages were also shared virtually by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye, and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
During these sessions, they discussed the need for the government and the private sector to genuinely support youth-led businesses, the need for enabling environments to foster online businesses, and the need to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and boost intra-Africa trade, especially in East Africa
What our Champions did
Our ONE Champions are vocal activists for youth representation, and during the summit, they had the opportunity to speak on that and ask questions to policymakers on the progress of inclusion. Jane Anika, a Champion from Kenya and the East Africa Coordinator of Amplify Girls, spoke in a session on gender-based violence, economic justice, and rights, where she talked about her work in the Generation Equality Youth Coalition.
She highlighted the barriers hindering the achievement of gender equality. Three particular issues facing women that are hard to quantify are lack of access to career and education progress, lack of recognition and legitimacy as critical stakeholders, and limited access to financial resources. She emphasised that the triple yoke of oppression of race, gender, and age burdens young women on the continent.
Carine Umutoniwase, another Champion from Kenya who is also a Rwandese national and founder of Footprints for Change, moderated a session called the Arusha Peace Forum, where she hosted panelists who spoke on how youth can participate in early warning and early response mechanisms for conflict prevention.
Over the course of the five-day summit, a lot was accomplished in strengthening youth representation across Africa. Some of the key milestones and achievements include:
- The launch of the East Africa Youth Agenda, which is a document highlighting aspirations for youth in the EAC.
- The unveiling of the process of developing the inaugural EAC YouLead Fellowship led by the Jakaya Kikwete Foundation.
- The launch of Skillsmatch, an online skills matchmaking platform for young graduates in East Africa linking them to businesses for jobs and internships.
- The launch of the Youth Governance Architecture in the EAC Report, which examines the enabling environment of youth participation and explores opportunities for re-inventing and entrenching youth leadership. The Youth Participation in Economic Governance Report is also in development.
- The unveiling of the Elected Young Leaders Performance and Cooperation Peer Review mechanism, which focuses on evaluating the performance of young elected representatives and strengthening partnerships.
- The launch of the Arusha Debates, which is an annual town hall that will be held to debate a key topic. This year’s topic was the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Read the official summit outcomes.
The experience of attending the YouLead Africa Summit was a one-of-a-kind opportunity for our Champions to further their mission of ensuring that youth representation is a priority across Africa. Felix Onyango, a ONE Champion from Kenya, said the summit had an impact on his worldview and reinforced his belief in the promise that African youth holds.
Founder of Activate Action and ONE Champion, Rogers Omollo, described the summit as an opportunity for the African youth to contribute towards a better, more equitable, and sustainable society especially in leadership, governance, and politics regardless of age.