Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has called on fellow Africans to disabuse their minds of living on charity and think of how to create a new path to develop the continent beyond aid.
He expressed concerns about Africans becoming permanently dependent on ‘handouts’ and losing any inclination to improve their circumstances as a result of it, intimating that the time has come for Africans to break from the dependency syndrome and take up the “can-do spirit” attitude to develop the continent.
Addressing over 2,000 African youth as part of the Youth Connekt 2021 celebration in Accra, on behalf of President Akufo-Addo, Dr. Bawumia said such mentality would help Africans to own their resources and deploy them creatively for economic and social transformation.
The Vice President believes that positive thinking can make African youth work hard, explore their creativity and become innovative.
He also urged African leaders to fight against corruption in public sectors, indicating that “selfish interests of a few are crippling the development of various countries.
“There is the need to continue to maintain the momentum towards the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and mainstream Covid-19 strategies into the national AfCTA plans with the potential to become a game-changer for Africa’s economic transformation,” he asserted.
Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa also asked African leaders to show strong political will and tenacity to the implementation of policies that are intended to propel the African youth transformation agenda.
She commended various governments across the continent for following-through with implementation of such programmes, and pledged UNDP’s support to the YouthConnekt project.
“On our part, UNDP will continue to support the scaling up of the multi-dimensional YouthConnekt model that engages young people to be proactive in socio-economic and leadership activities,” he affirmed.
Madam Eziakonwa stated that the theme of the summit, “Africa Beyond Aid: Positioning the Youth for the Post COVID Economy and AfCFTA Opportunities,” is timely and relevant, saying, “When we talk about Africa Beyond Aid, as an African myself, I know intrinsically that we are on the right track, a little late – but certainly welcome.”
She revealed that aid has played a critical role in the development of Africa, but added that poverty, on the other hand, was on the increase in general, and that “extreme poverty in particular is rising at alarming proportions.”
She said this was a trend that had been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, “but it also exposes the fault lines in the development models that prioritized neither provision of services, inclusion, nor maximizing of Africa’s resources for Africa’s development.”
The 2021 edition of YouthConnekt was hosted by Ghana’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Authority (NYA), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
It provided a platform to connect youth to thought-leaders, peers, resources, technologies, skills, and economic development opportunities, whilst leveraging youth innovation and creativity for sustainable development in Africa.
The programme, which is present in Ghana and 22 other African countries, originated in Rwanda in 2012.
In less than a decade, the YouthConnekt initiative has continued to gain ground in many African countries by leveraging a combination of partnerships, programmes and policies that promote youth empowerment and development.
By Linda Tenyah-Ayettey