President Akufo-Addo has expressed grave concern about the number of unemployed youth on the African continent.
He sees it as a volcano waiting to explode, if not checked.
Analysing the situation, he said “the World Bank tells us that in 40 African countries, over 50% of the population is under the age of 20. Indeed, the median age across the continent is stated to be 19.5 years. That is a lot of young energy that can be mobilised for the development of the continent.”
President Akufo-Addo disclosed this during the 9th African Union (AU) High-Level Retreat on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Accra yesterday.
He challenged all African leaders to create opportunities and jobs for the youth or they risk becoming instruments of instability or targets of recruitment by terrorists.
“We are required to pay urgent attention to the bubbling volcano that is the army of young unemployed people. We must provide them with access to education; we must transform the structure of our economies from raw material producing and exporting economies to value-added and industrialised economies, which will provide opportunities, jobs and hope to our young people to live dignified, productive lives” he reiterated.
The President indicated that it’s also critical that a system and culture of accountable governance, free of corruption, be promoted and developed on the continent whereby the citizens are governed in accordance with the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability.
Such a system, he indicated, can only be realized through the building strong institutions of state, such as well-resourced Parliaments and Judiciaries, efficient law enforcement agencies, and effective security forces that prosecute their responsibilities and allegiances to the wider public interest, not just to the convenience of the governments of the day.
President Akufo-Addo was also of the belief that Africa as a continent can only move forward by breaking all the artificial barriers that impede its progress.
He said through the formation of the European Union (EU), European countries were able to stop the vicious cycle of violence that had plagued them for centuries, leading them onto the path of advancement, wealth and prosperity for the majority of their peoples.
He said, “Africa can no longer dither, this should motivate us in Africa, and hasten our efforts towards integration.”
He, therefore, charged his colleague African leaders to work together to unleash the energy and ingenuity of the African, and with a market of 1.2 billion people, soon to reach 2 billion, the sky will be the limit.
“Let us work towards the day when all of us will look to doing business first in our region and continent before looking to Europe, Asia or the Americas, because we have the men and women, the goods, the services and the quality,” he asserted.
“We must recognize that the way forward is to implement regional and continental decisions, such as the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, as, ultimately, the benefits are in everyone’s interest. Those of us who believe strongly in integration can do no better than to give our full support to regional and continental decisions. Through this, we will build institutional confidence and integrity in the structural organs of the AU and our regional entities,” he affirmed.
He also stressed the need to focus on the creation of conditions for the elimination of pervasive threats to individual rights, livelihoods, safety and life, through the protection of human and democratic rights and the promotion of human development.
On his part, the Commissioner for Peace and Security at the AU Commission, Smail Chergui, said the retreat will map up and discuss emerging threats to peace and security on the continent such as youth unemployment as observed by President Akufo Addo and propose solutions to same.
He added that the fight against conflicts on the continent requires the collaborative effort of all organs and partners of African Union (AU).
He, therefore, urged all the AU organs and partners to join forces to fight for the peace of Africa and for her prosperity.
Special Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWAS), Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambers, disclosed that the UN has observed that “violent conflicts on the continent have increased after decades of decline.”
“It’s the recommendation of the UN therefore that to deal with these increasing conflicts on the continent, African leaders must ensure that African countries are resilient through investments in inclusive and sustainable development,” he added.