October 29/2022/ENA/ Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonnen said the African youth need to play a vital role in shaping the continent’s future.

The first African Youth Summit under the theme “Integrated Africa — the Bridge of PM Abiy Ahmed” kicked off at the Headquarters of the African Union (AU) today.

The three-day summit has brought together youth from African countries as well as former African Heads of State and Government to share their immense wealth of experience and wisdom on Pan-Africanism.

In his keynote address, Deputy PM Demeke said that Africa is faced today with multiple socio-economic, political and security challenges.

Poverty, poor governance and corruption have continued to challenge the continent in a very insidious manner, he added.

It is, therefore, high time Africa worked to address these challenges and the youth have the lion’s share in this regard, the deputy premier stated.

“African youth need to play a vital role in shaping Africa’s future. The youth should also know that they have responsibilities to secure the interest of our continent in the years to come; and I have no doubt that is achievable.”

According to Demeke, empowering and educating the youth will allow the continent to challenge the existing status quo, tangibility, variables, and problems.

Therefore, a platform like this African Youth Summit is designed to bridge Africa’s past experience with its future leaders and to keep Pan-Africanism high on our agenda.

Building upon the founding forefathers of Africa, this summit envisions to become an important continental platform to acquaint the continent with the ideals of  Pan-African Leadership, he elaborated.

According to him, the African Union is to be commended for the several human development policies and programs it established at continental level.

As far as Ethiopia is concerned, its national youth policy recognizes the potential and actual contribution of the youth in the process of nation building.

“Ensuring greater participation of youth in leadership and decision-making positions holds central place in Ethiopia’s 10 years Development Plan. The Ethiopian government recognizes that any effort to ensure peaceful coexistence, inclusive economic development and national unity has to be youth centered.”

That is why, he pointed out that Ethiopia embarked on mobilizing youth voluntarism  under the Youth  National Voluntary Program which has been under implementation.

Demeke also shared Ethiopia’s better experience in tackling challenges of climate change by implementing Green Legacy Initiative and mobilizing over 20 million persons during the span of four years and planting over 22 billion tree seedlings across the country.

He finally urged the African youth to adopt the Green Legacy Initiative as a good response to a worrying trend of global warming and the environment.

AUC Deputy Chairperson, Monique Nsanzabaganwa said on her part that the AU recognizes the youth population as a critical resource towards development of the continent.

It seeks to empower young generations to be resilient advocates of change towards addressing the challenges they continue to face on the road to the Africa we want.

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