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Report Launch: The Greater Inclusion of African Youth in Public Service and Governance

Report Launch: The Greater Inclusion of African Youth in Public Service and Governance

The report: The Greater Inclusion of African Youth in Public Service and Governance was launched on August 12, International Youth Day 2020. The report is part of an ongoing partnership between the African Leadership Institute's Project Pakati and the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy to shift young Africans to the centre of the African development narrative. These efforts are being funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation. 

The report documents the outcomes of the jointly-organised workshop - The Greater Inclusion of African Youth in Public Service and Governance - that was held from 4th- 5th May 2020 and engaged with policymakers, government officials, and young leaders around best practices and lessons from selected progressive policies aimed at enhancing youth inclusion in governance in Africa.

Africa is the youngest continent on the globe and set to remain so for the next 30 years.

In fact, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, about 70 per cent of the continent’s population is under the age of 30 and more than one third are between the ages of 15 and 34. Despite this, they are missing in key institutions that determine Africa’s future, and the average age of African Heads of State in 2018 was 64.5. Africa is, hence, undeniably characterised by a striking generation and governance gap - between those who govern and the governed - in terms of values, experience and understanding. This generational and governance gap is so large that it makes the continent much more susceptible to distrust, and the political instability that inevitably develops as a result.

The point was made at the launch that the focus of this report was less on making the self-evident case for the need for young people to operate in governance and the policy realm, but rather on how progress can be accelerated and how African Union member states can achieve greater youth inclusion in public service and government.  African governments must institutionalize formal pathways for young people to move into elected and appointed positions at every level of government and public service. As AU Youth Envoy Aya Chebbe said in her opening remarks during the launch, "We cannot inherit systems we did not co-design." 

In the spirit of fast-tracking reforms, the report encourages countries to learn from each other, not to duplicate efforts and to avoid pitfalls. It shares some of those progressive and successful youth-inclusive best practices as a basis for other countries to replicate. Practical policies for greater youth inclusion in governance are presented in four thematic categories:

Slide5Theme 1 is illustrated by Yiaga Africa’s #NotTooYoungToRun movement that championed the Age Reduction Bill in Nigeria.  This resulted in the reduction of age limits for running for office.

Theme 2 is demonstrated well by Rwanda, which has a structured youth internship programme that institutionalises the drawing on of a pool of skilled young people. It thereby creates a pipeline of young public servants. At relatively low cost, this provides great exposure to young graduates to begin to understand how governance works.

For Theme 3, the cases of Special Advisory roles in Nigeria and Namibia illustrate how governments can develop a pathway to bring in young technocrats into the policy realm.

Theme 4 is illustrated by the interesting case of Morocco, in which civic youth engagement has been institutionalised through a parallel youth government, which shadows the national government.

The launch took place over on a Zoom webinar and the broadcast is available on AFLI’s YouTube channel.  It was attended by just under 1 000 people. The launch attendees were honoured to be addressed by the African Union Commissioner of Political Affairs, Cessouma Minata Samate; the First Lady of Namibia, Monica Geingos; the Chadian Minister of Youth and Sports, Walaa Issam ElBoushi; Aya Chebbi, the African Union Youth Envoy; and Jacqueline Chimhanzi, the CEO of the African Leadership Institute. As Project Pakati Manager, I went through the key report recommendations for closing the generational and governance gap.
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The star of the launch was Monica Geingos, who enthralled the viewers with her openness and candour.  She said: “The topic should no longer be Youth Inclusion but, Institutionalizing Youth Inclusion in Africa… I agree with the report - we need to institutionalise youth inclusion policies, because it should not rely on a political leader or President, or powerful individuals."  She also went on to give young people valuable advice on how to navigate the political landscape should they enter public service.

Dr Jackie Chimhanzi gave the closing remarks, in which she emphasized that the report was the beginning of a journey. The project would now enter a new phase of engaging African governments and encouraging them to adopt and replicate the practices highlighted in the report. She urged young people across the continent to amplify their voices to ensure that these reforms are implemented. She also had this to say to African governments: “As part of this project, we are here to assist African governments that are serious about youth inclusion and want to take up these recommendations. We are here to help you.”

The full recording of the launch is available on the AFLI YouTube Channel, and the report itself can be downloaded from our site as a PDF.

 

Written by : Monique Atouguia

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