AU’s Pan African Youth Forum Launches ‘1 Million by 2021 Initiative’

By Lionel Tarumbwa

With 75% of its population under the age of 35, the African Union has to realise Africa’s demographic dividend may be more important to its future than its natural resources.

The second edition of the African Union’s Pan African Youth Forum is kicking off on Tuesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The forum will be running under the theme Africa Unite for Youth: Bridging the Gap and Reaching African Youth.

The forum is aimed at leveraging and harnessing on the power of the continent’s growing youth population. It represents a paradigm shift in the AU as it moves towards broader recognition and support of the continent’s youth in order to harness their potential.

The forum brings together over 400 young people from across the continent to co-create solutions on the main problem areas that are hindering the youth from achieving their potential. Development partners, the private sector, institutions of higher learning and the civil societies will also be in attendance as part of the aim to have a broader engagement with all stakeholders.

The chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat will officially launch the 1 million by 2021 Initiative, which targets direct investment in millions of African youth on the four key elements of employment, entrepreneurship, education and engagement (4Es).

Africa is expected to experience a demographic dividend as young people make up the bulk of Africa’s total population, with an estimated 75% of the continent’s population below the age of 35. The demographic dividend has been acknowledged by African leaders and decision-makers as a strategic basis for focusing and prioritising investments. Investments into Africa’s youth will contribute towards sustainable development, inclusive economic growth and to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

For African countries to capitalize on this demographic dividend, the future workforce must be educated, trained, and have adequate employment and innovation opportunities. Putting all the pieces in place will not be easy.

This will be achieved by building capacity for quality education and skills improvement, health and wellbeing, good governance, human rights and accountability, employment opportunities, leadership skills, empowerment and entrepreneurship. This is the basis for prioritising youth development by the AUC, as evidenced by the 2017 theme of the year: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth.

In data gathered by the Ibrahim Index of Africa Governance over a decade, there were reflections that African governments are in danger of squandering the continent’s demographic dividend by failing to create enough jobs.

Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese businessman whose foundation produces the index, said, “Our gross domestic product has grown by a considerable amount over the past 10 years, but we haven’t translated that into a sustainable economic opportunity.”

According to a report by Brookings on Increasing Employment Opportunities in Africa’s complex job market, even some of Africa’s largest economies such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa struggle with high unemployment. This is a challenge that may persist as more youth begin to enter the workforce if not more investments are made into education and skills creation. The report by Brookings noted that investments into “human capital” more generally will help African countries to fulfil their broader development missions.

The AU Commission launching the 1 million by 2021 Initiative demonstrates a focused commitment on young Africans. The main objective of the initiative is to concretely provide opportunities in the 4Es for millions of African youths by the year 2021.

Source The African Exponent


Kenya: Rastafarianism, promising freedom, spreads among African youth


Dressed in a red turban and black robe, Douglas Okello bowed and gazed at the portrait of the former Ethiopian emperor pinned up in his one-room mud shack in Nairobi’s Kibera slum.

Then he prayed, and smoked a joint.

“I believe in Haile Selassie I, the Ethiopian emperor who will deliver us to the promised land,” said Okello, 28. “This is a calling from Jah, and a true Rastafari must smoke weed to cleanse his soul.”

Rastafarianism, increasingly popular in Kenya, is a faith that started in the Caribbean island of Jamaica in the 1930s after the coronation of Haile Selassie I as king of Ethiopia. Rastafarians regard Haile Selassie as the God of the black race and believe he will one day return all black people living in so-called exile — outside Africa — as the result of migration and the slave trade back to the continent.

Okello, who has been a Rastafarian for five years, said he joined the movement after he developed a liking for reggae music, which grew out of Rastafarian culture in the West Indies, while studying at the University of Nairobi. Reggae musicians singing about how black people were oppressed spoke to him, he said.

Rastafarians don’t cut their hair but grow it, uncombed, into dreadlocks. They smoke marijuana and reject materialist values in favor of a strict oneness with nature. They tend to be vegetarian and eat only unprocessed foods.

“I received a spirit that led me to start growing dreadlocks and learn how to smoke marijuana,” Okello explained. “If you are a true Rastafarian, everything changes and you start to understand the Bible. I don’t consume animals nowadays.”

The faith has grown so much among young people in Kenya, its leaders say, that they have developed social media platforms to address issues affecting the youth. Last year, the group Rastafarian Family Elders estimates, more than 1,000 people shifted from Christianity to Rastafarianism in Nairobi’s Kibera slum alone. The Elders said youths in the country have started realizing the religion favors their interests. (There are no official figures on Rastafarians in Kenya, but estimates put the global figure at 1 million.)

Anthony Maiga, a theologian and pastor for the United Methodist Church of Kenya in Nairobi, said the group traces Haile Selassie’s lineage back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and, through King David’s line as described in the New Testament book of Matthew, to Jesus.

But Maiga said the faith has seen rapid growth because many young people see themselves reflected in the language and behavior of Rastafarians.

“Youths love something that does not restrict them, like smoking and abusing drugs, listening to secular music and sharing things instead of working and paying for their own,” said Maiga. “The sect encourages such behavior and obviously they are likely to get more youths.”

Jacob Maina, 35, who also lives in the slum, confirmed that he joined the faith because he was looking for freedom. Born into a Protestant Christian family, he said the faith restricted him: He could not smoke marijuana, question oppressors or listen to his favorite reggae musician, Bob Marley.

“I was actually in prison when I was a Christian,” he said. “Christianity condemns everything that youths enjoy. The Rastafari faith allows youths to live good life. We don’t give offering on Sabbath day and we are allowed to smoke marijuana and listen to reggae music.”

But its adherents here say that many new Rastafarians are attracted by the social justice and anti-colonialist sentiments that drew Okello.

“Youths who are black have been oppressed since the days of colonization,” said Ras Malonza, a Rastafarian leader in Nairobi. “They were made slaves to whites and that’s the reason they found themselves in Jamaica.

“Jamaica is hell to us and Ethiopia is our heaven,” he added. In time, he said, “we will be repatriated to Ethiopia, which is our promised land by Haile Selassie. Black youths will no longer be oppressed and we will live in freedom and peace.”

Malonza, 43, who was once a staunch Catholic, said he regrets the years he wasted not believing in Haile Selassie. As evidence that Rastafarians are the true believers, he quotes the Old Testament book of Jeremiah: “For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.”

“We are the only religion that follows the Bible,” said Malonza. “Our God is black and the Bible confirms that.”

Anyway, local leader say, Rastafarianism doesn’t equate to freedom in Kenya’s socially conservative urban milieu. Rastafarians often face discrimination and are viewed as criminals because of their pot smoking and their appearance, especially the dreadlocks, local leaders say.

Recently, a court in Nairobi ordered officials at Olympic High School in Kibera slum to admit a Rastafarian student after she was refused due to her dreadlocks.

“It’s time for people to understand and respect our faith just as we respect other religions,” said Ras Lojuron, a member of the Rastafarian Family Elders.

Meanwhile, Okello hopes society, especially the government, stops its harassment and discrimination against Rastafarians.

“The police should treat us well,” he said. “We are a religion just like Christianity and Islam.”

Source Religion News Service

Meet The Youngest Tech Pioneer in Ethiopia

By Thomas Lewton

Ethiopia, despite nearly 20 years of steady economic growth, still has one of the lowest GDPs per capital in the world. While the majority of the country contributes to its agriculture-based economy, growing sectors of tech-savvy youths are forging a new path.

And Ethiopia isn’t alone. As start-up hubs sprout all across Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana – often backed by A-list investors – a new generation is turning its attention toward innovation. The idea is simple: create local solutions to local problems through tech.

Betelhem Dessie, 19, is one of the youngest tech pioneers in Ethiopia. Over the last three years, in addition to patenting several software programs, she has travelled the country teaching students how to code and conducting innovation workshops. So far, she has reached more than 20,000 young people.

“In developed countries, technology is creating a comfort or a convenience.” she says. “Whereas in Ethiopia it’s creating a necessity.”

Source BBC

Mekele Set To Provide Jobs For 23,000 Youth in Ethiopia

Featured photo credit: SOS Youth Facilities

Mekele, the Capital of Tigray Region of Ethiopia provides land for investors who are set to create jobs for 22,900 youth.

The 222 investors who secured the land have registered a total capital of 13.6 billion birr (about $483 million). The investors who secured land from Mekele City Administration on Saturday will be engaged in manufacturing and service sectors, according to Fana Broadcasting.

Increasing Mekele City Administration has been providing land after evaluating investment proposals of the investors.

The report indicated that Dr. Debretision Gebremichael, Deputy Head of Tigray Region said that when more investment comes to the region, more youth will get jobs.

In recent years youth unemployment in Ethiopia has been a major concern. For some cities the unemployment rate is estimated to reach up to 30% though the official data says that the national unemployment rate is around 24%.

The growing rural to urban migration and the imbalance between the number of graduates coming from schools every year and the number of jobs the country is providing, have increased the unemployment rate in cities including Mekele.

The December 2016 report of the World Bank on employment in Ethiopia suggested that the government needs to address major obstacles in the labor market to enable the country accelerate structural transformation, ensure inclusive growth and lead to poverty reduction.

Entitled, ‘5th Ethiopia economic update: why so idle? – wages and employment in a crowded labor market, World Bank’s report offers five policy recommendations to enhance urban labor markets:

– encourage firm creation and firm growth that creates jobs for non-graduates;

– increase labor productivity in the low-skill population segment by addressing constraints faced by firms in accessing capital (financial and physical) to ensure that the marginal product of labor increases above the nutrition-based wage;

– invest further in job training and technical training programs to build the skills of those in the job market: both for low-skilled workers to increase their productivity and for those with higher levels of education to increase their skill base;

– introduce targeted urban safety nets and labor market programs to invest in skills of low skilled employees and the unemployed, and provide financial support to enable their job search;

– enhance the use of information communication and technology (ICT) to provide information on job vacancies throughout the city and reduce the cost of job search.

Source New Business Ethiopia

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Ethiopia Bans Alcohol Commercials on Media to Protect Children and Youth


Ethiopians Parliament on Wednesday has passed a new law that bans alcohol commercials on broadcast media.

The new law aims to protect children and the youth from being seduced by the commercials of liquor and become addicted and unproductive. It also plans to address the consequences of alcohol consumption on the health of individuals and over economy.

Reports show that most of drunkard drivers are among the causes of road traffic accidents in Ethiopia, which cost the country about 5,000 lives and millions of dollars property damage every year.

In Ethiopia liquor manufacturers and importers including beer factories have been major sponsors of broadcast programs. To minimize the impact of the ban on the income of the broadcast media, which are also significant in democratization of Ethiopia, government institutions should figure out how to work with the broadcasters for better good causes, according to the Minister of Health of Ethiopia Dr. Amir.

“…But as Minister of Health and my mandate, no matter what the consequence I support efforts to protect the health of the public,” he told Sheger FM this morning.

Primarily the draft law was suggesting transmission of alcohol adverts after the children sleep – after 9:PM. Meanwhile during the later discussions and public hearings, it is decided that alcohol advertisements have to be banned. Finally the 547 members parliament banned the commercials on broadcast media by over 400 majority votes.

The new law, which aims to protect the health of the public also involves articles related to tobacco and drug uses, among others.

Currently there are two wineries and several breweries while dozens of companies are engaged in import and distributions of liquors.

Source New Business Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Employment sought for Sri Lankan youth in African continent

Employment has been sought for Sri Lankan youth in the African continent.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Ethiopia celebrated the 71st Anniversary of National Day of Sri Lanka with the Addis Ababa based Diplomats, senior officials of the Ethiopian Government and the African Union Commission, Ethiopian entrepreneurs and members of the Sri Lankan community, at the Sri Lanka House.

The official ceremony commenced with the hoisting of the national flag by Ambassador Sumith Dassanayake followed by singing of national anthems of Sri Lanka and Ethiopia, observing two minutes of silence in remembrance of national heroes and lighting of traditional oil lamp by the invited guests, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Ethiopia said.

The National Day messages of the President, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs were read out in Sinhala, Tamil and English languages.

Addressing the gathering, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union Commission Sumith Dassanayake outlined the significant achievements of Sri Lanka since independence and requested the Diplomatic Corps and other foreign guests to make use of the opportunities available in Sri Lanka in the fields of trade, tourism and foreign investment etc.

The Ambassador also acknowledged the positive contributions made by the Sri Lankan expatriate community in Ethiopia and Africa for economic development in Sri Lanka. He also requested them to contribute further and find more employment opportunities for Sri Lankan youths in the African continent.

At the end, a short video featuring Sri Lanka’s tourist and cultural attractions was screened to the audience.

Source MenaFM