Highlight: Youth summit in Senegal on unemployment and insecurity
An international forum for Francophone youth was held in Dakar, Senegal in mid-October, ahead of the 15th Sommet de la Francophonie to be held November 29-30, 2014. Some 250 youth debated their own futures during the two-day event organized by Senegal’s Ministry of Youth, Employment, and Promotion of Civic Values, and the National Youth Council of Senegal (NYCS), in partnership with the Initiative prospective agricole et rurale. IDRC supported the forum.
Unemployment is the number one concern of French-speaking youths around the world, according to young opinion leaders drawn from 23 countries.
"The international youth forum strongly advocates for efficient management of the problem of youth employment," said Alioune Sow. NYCS President. “It is urgent that we find operational mechanisms to address the issue of youth employment, which is a matter of human dignity,” he said.
Youth are also greatly concerned about conflict, especially in Africa. The participants shared their experiences of peace-building, and discussed innovative ways to end conflict and insecurity.
The forum, L'avenir en face (facing the future), aimed to give voice to young people and encourage participation in issues that will affect their lives. Some 200 young Senegalese participated, as well as 50 others from elsewhere. High levels of youth unemployment threaten the very future of Africa, said Hadj Hamidou Kasse, the head of the Scientific Committee of the 15th Sommet de la Francophonie. “This issue has become a time bomb,” he said.
Participants discussed the fact that 17 million people enter the job market in sub-Saharan Africa each year. They highlighted agriculture as a sector that holds potential for growth and job opportunities worldwide; in some countries, agriculture’s contribution to GDP is as low as 10%.
This year’s youth forum was considered particularly relevant because the summit will focus on the role of women in youth as agents of peace and development.