WINDHOEK - The 38th Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit that took place last week had young people at the centre of its agenda with the theme “Promoting infrastructure development and youth empowerment for sustainable development”.
President Hage Geingob said during the opening of the summit last Friday that young people constitute a significant percentage of the population in the Southern Africa countries region. Geingob said the summit theme was in line with the SADC aspirations of infrastructure development and youth empowerment. “It is therefore within our interest to ensure that our youth, who will be the leaders of the industrialised SADC we envisage, are equipped with the necessary tools required to govern industrialised nations,” said Geingob.
He told his fellow leaders that to empower young people, it is imperative to achieve sustained economic growth in the region. This, he added, would create sufficient employment opportunities for young people in the region. “We all have to be cognisant of the fact that to unleash the enormous potential of our youth and harness the demographic dividend, we must create, within our economies, the necessary opportunities for social and economic transformation,” added Geingob.
He also remarked that young people are expected to make valuable contributions to the SADC development agenda as political and social actors, scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs and academics amongst others.
In his speech, President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana who also spoke at the opening of the SADC summit said youth unemployment remains a serious challenge in the Southern Africa region.
“In our quest to pursue regional integration and enhance productivity and competitiveness of our economies, there is a need to prioritise the employment and capacitation of the youth,” said Masisi.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Dr Vera Songwe said unemployment in Africa was estimated at 7.9 percent in 2017.
“The number of unemployed youth increased by more than 1 million due to the region’s strong labour force growth,” said Songwe.
She also pointed out that there is a lack of opportunities for young people under 25 years old and this presents a major global challenge.
“Young people are much less likely to be employed than adults,” added Songwe.
Furthermore, she said that the global youth unemployment rate is three times higher (13 percent) than the adult rate of 4.3 percent.
“This does not have to be so. For a region that suffers from heightened level of inequality such as SADC, these trends must be worrisome as they have potential to worsen if not urgently attended to,” warned Songwe.
The National Youth Council’s Executive Chairperson, Mandela Kapere told New Era that there has been progress in youth matters as a priority at SADC level in the last three years. “We are happy about that,” said Kapere. He added that there is a need for formal structures for the engagement of youth at the SADC Secretariat.
2018-08-22 09:24:08 8 months ago