Addis Ababa, 31 March 2014 (ECA) – The Executive Secretary of ECA, Carlos Lopes, today called on the leaders of Africa and Europe to respond to the immediate needs of their youth, whom he said have a common desire for change linked to their economic, political and social marginalisation. Mr Lopes was speaking at the 3rd Africa-Europe Youth Leaders’ Summit focused on the place and role of the younger generations of both constituents in leadership, entrepreneurship, employment and peace. Over a hundred youngsters are taking part in the event which will script recommendations for the attention of leaders meeting at the 4th EU-Africa Heads of State Summit from 2 to 3 April 2014.
“The Youth that manifested themselves in the streets of Lisbon, Paris, London, Athens and Istanbul, are no different from the youth that manifested themselves in Maputo, Niamey, Tunis and the streets of Cairo” said the ECA top official. While rejoicing that that violent conflicts related to youth manifestations are on a downward spiral on the two continents, Mr Lopes noted that both groups of youngsters have the same sense of aspiration as well as frustration that economic gains, modernisation, and innovation achievements are not equally shared. Frowning at the marginalisation of today’s youth in decision making structures of especially African nations as well as at the continent’s low funding of development oriented education, Mr Lopes said there could not be a better time than now for young people from Africa and Europe harness their energy, enthusiasm, creativity, ideas and potential for development and peace.
A proposed Africa-EU Youth Facility to tackle challenges
Young people in both Africa and Europe face great challenges with unemployment and exclusion from the labour market. There is a need for young people and the organisations representing them to be engaged with all levels of government, the private sector and civil society and for their voices to be fed in the relationship between Africa and the EU.
The current Africa-EU Youth Leaders’ Summit will therefore request the establishment of an Africa-EU Youth Facility. The Delegates are exchanging views on the main challenges faced by youth on the two continents and debating how such a Facility, in the broader context the Africa-EU partnership can empower the youth and their organisations to find solutions to their own challenges.