By Calvin Manika
WOMEN are mostly neglected with few actively participating in economic activities including running businesses. In a rare turn of events of recognising women and youth in business and economic development, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) launched Energise Africa.
The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) and Afreximbank launched the initiative to place Africa’s youth and women at the core of the continent’s economic growth and inclusive strategies. The AUDA-NEPAD Energise Africa, was launched on the margins of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Women and youth makes up more than half of the continent’s populations. With the demographic background of Africa, the Energize Africa initiative recognises the role of youth and women in economic development.
The idea of AUDA-NEPAD was conceived at the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government in Nouakchott, Mauritania, in 2018. The decision was taken to establish AUDA-NEPAD as part of the global reforms geared at improving the Union’s impact and operational efficiency. The mandate of AUDA-NEPAD is to coordinate and execute priority regional and continental projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realisation of Agenda 2063.
Africa’s population stands at close to 1.4 billion, and the working-age population, of which the vast majority are the youth, stands at about 725 million. According to the Economic Commission for Africa, the Continent needs to create at least twelve million new jobs annually to manage the unemployment crisis in Africa.
“Africa also suffers from the paradox of substantial natural resource endowments, enormous agricultural potential, and a dynamically youthful population,” notes Economic Commission for Africa in a statement.
The Chief Executive Officer of the AUDA-NEPAD Nardos Bekeke-Thomas said Energize Africa’s focus is on young professionals to enhance public sector efficiency; stimulate solution-focused research and development, through innovation hubs, and; Entrepreneurship opportunities for Africa’s youthful populations for improved socio-economic well-being.
“The Energize Africa initiative is about harnessing youths’ creativity and skills into the continent’s economic growth and development, whilst expanding income opportunities for the youth – through creation of jobs, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” said Bekele-Thomas.
Introducing the AUDA-NEPAD, the African Union said there is need to recognise young entrepreneurs for the development of the continent and economic sustainability.
“Recognising that the continent with the highest percentage of entrepreneurs among working-age adults is Africa, AUDA-NEPAD has designed the Energize Africa initiative as a continental platform of youth professionals, institutions, and facilities to strengthen innovative solutions, skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship,” said Africa Union in a statement.
During the launch of the program, the President and Chairman of Board of Directors, Afreximbank Professor Benedict Okey Oramah, said that Africa youths have potential to run continent’s economics and grow it.
“The Energize Africa collaboration is a demonstration of the partnership with AUDA-NEPAD towards ensuring that youth are at the core of our development. The youth are indeed the leaders of tomorrow,” said Oramah.
Africa is rallying Vision 2063 under the theme, ‘Building the Africa We Want’, and leaders hailed the recognition of youths and women in development. Several patrons and champions expressed their hope and confidence during the launch of Energise Africa.
Afreximbank President and Chairman of the board added that Energise Africa’s focus is on young professionals to enhance public sector efficiency; stimulate solution-focused research and development, through innovation hubs, and; Entrepreneurship opportunities.
“The collaboration is a demonstration of the partnership with AUDA-NEPAD towards ensuring that youth are at the core of our development,” said Oramah.
The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, said Energize Africa is an opportunity to invest in the future of Africa.
“If we do not harness the youth dividend, it will remain a “potential.” Energize Africa is an opportunity to invest in the future of Africa,”
In her message of support Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Ms. Amina J. Mohammed said energizing Africa is indispensable to leverage Africa’s most valuable resource, its human capital.
“It is important for supporting start-ups to get on their feet and serve as long-term sources of innovation and growth – put simply, by giving young people a chance to design their future. Let us join efforts to energize Africa and build the Africa we want to ensure that no one is left behind,” said Mohammed.
AUDA-NEPAD, from its inception, recognised that Africa’s youth must be at the core of its development strategy and prosperity. Speaking to the Entrepreneurial Magazine, Tanaka Mawire, a youth development advocate and business man said priotising youths and women is a cornerstone for economic development in Zimbabwe and Africa in large.
“The introduction of the initiative is timely to assist us. Governments must harness the efforts in their respective countries especially in providing stimulus packages as a supporting mechanism to youth and women,” said Mawire.