This year’s New York Forum Africa focused on the importance of youth’s participation in the economic development of the continent.
These special sessions were designed in collaboration with young people, based on the results of the Train My Generation survey, the only true pan-African canvas of the opinions of 16 – 25 year olds, which was launched by the NYFA 2014.
The opening speech was delivered by His Excellency, ‘Ali Bongo Ondimba, (President, Gabonese Republic), speaking on how NYFA emerged, main issues concerning young people in Africa, and positive changes that have been effected since the 3rd edition of the summit.
UNESCO estimates that less than 5 per cent of Africans enroll in formal technical or vocational training programs, yet there is a huge deficit in qualified local labor across all sectors.
During the intense ‘Give me a job’ section, which had Neila Benzina,(CEO, business and decision, Tunisia) Yostina Boules ( M.D, Taqa solutions, Egypt) Charles Alexis Boukinda, (corporate communication & CSR director, Airtel Gabon) Barclay Paul Okari, (CEO and Founder, Impact Africa Industries, Kenya) Kwame Abrokwa, (Managing Director, Avinture Group, Ghana) as panels and Karl Miville De Chene, (President, Ivory – Canadian Council for Business Development, Canada) as moderator.
It was an educative section with great minds as challenges faced by young entrepreneurs was elaborated.
“Being that you are a social entrepreneur, how do you survive?” Karl Miville De Chene asked kwame.
Kwame Abrokwa, managing director of Avinture Group Ghana replied “You need to have an appetite for risk, turndowns, having an idea you want to see ‘realise’ you have to be willing to go through anything.”
“In this age, youths are focused on the media; they start a business on Monday and expect to be on ‘Forbes list’ on Friday. It takes a lot, from strong ideas to planning, you need to have patience” Questions from the audience was encouraged after the educative opinions of panel
“Are there mentors in Africa?” Shewa from the audience asked.
Barclay Paul Okari, CEO and Founder, Impact Africa Industries, Kenya replied “yes, there are mentors in Africa; I am mentored by those in the business before me”
“Am also a mentor to others, the leaders who inspire me are, Nelson Mandela, Barrack Obama, Dangote, Tony Elumelu” He further stated.
Today’s young Africans, who are both highly educated and technologically connected, have both the skills and the tools to drive the continent forward to the next stage of its development.
In the second section of the Pre-forum section, Chude Jideonwo (Managing Partner, Red Media Africa, and Nigeria) was the moderator.
The panel includes Samir Abdelkarim(Founder, Founder and Blogger, StartupBRICS.com France) Aisha Karanja(Executive Director, The Green Belt Movement, Kenya) George Njenga, (Current and Founding Dean, Strathmore University Kenya) and Andy Roland, Nziengui (President, Youth Council Gabonese Republic).
The group discussed on how this generation should engage with its leaders to shape its own future and emphasized on the need for government to invest in the growth of the continent.
When asked if youth should participate in the development of Africa, Professor George NJENGA stated that “Pan-Africanism should be what unites the continent; we need to start believing in it. Traveling through Africa I have noticed that there is some kind of segregation between the Anglophone Africans and the Francophone Africans.”
“We also need to focus on merging ideas so as to build the African market and also create a free flow for finance” he said.
“We as leaders must start seeing the youths as agents of change not beneficiaries and targets, we need to work with them, not for them” Aisha Karanja said.
“Leaders should focus on ‘impact’ not on ‘continuing projects’ 75% of youths do not have the required skills to be an entrepreneur because of lack of resources” she lamented.The Pre-forum ended with the emphasis that youths need to start small, then continually train your ideas, because education only creates ‘employees’ not entrepreneurs’
Story Courtesy of Pulse.ng #Pulse@NYFA