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13.08.2009 General News

African youth governance conference underway in Accra

By GNA
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Accra, Aug. 13, GNA - Government is to devise a new multi-partisan youth policy which has as its object the making of the youth as meaningful participants in the decision-making and economic development of the country, Vice President John Mahama said in Accra on Thursday.

In a speech read on his behalf at the on-going African Youth Governance conference in Accra, Vice President Mahama said a National Youth Training and Placement Board was to be created as part of the process to ensure the sustainability of the policy.

The policy, which is to come out before the end of the year, would be built on a number of thematic areas, the significant ones being vocational training, entrepreneurship, ICT development, job creation and placement.

It would also recognize the youth as a potential human resource base, which must be mobilized for the eventual development of the country.

The three-day conference, which is being organized by the Youth Bridge Foundation and the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), is aimed at creating a trajectory for policy makers to interface with the youth who constitute nearly half the population of African countries as centrepiece in the development agenda of the continent.

Further, it identifies the youth as veritable forces of social change whose ideas must be factored into development policy to unleash not only their creative potentials for economic development but also for the sustenance of democracy on the African continent.

Vice President Mahama conceded that though the youth remained an important and vibrant asset in realizing the economic potential of the continent, African leaders had failed to empower them in order to fully tap their energy and wit.

He said the "marginalization" must be discontinued because continuing to exclude the youth from governance would create a situation of "indifference, despondency and even instability on the continent".

"Youth participation, empowerment and mobilization have become veritable forces for national development in the twenty-first century. Nobody can run away from this truth and the earlier African leaders recognize this the better it would be for all of us."

The Vice President encouraged them to embrace education as the future will continue to be bleak if they to remained indifferent to formal education because of its potential in reducing strife and squalor.

Mr Kojo Asante, a legal officer with CDD, said African governments had the option of either harvesting the abundant talents of their youthful population or allowing them to become a curse.

Ms Anna Bossman, a Deputy Commissioner at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, tasked the participants to be the initiators of the change they sought, adding that change would remain a mirage if money was the motivator.

"We must be the change that we seek, if we want integrity in our national life, then we ourselves must be men and women of integrity."

Professor Rudy Bropleh, a lecturer at the Shepherd University, West Virginia, USA, said investment in the youngest African generation should be seen by African governments as investment in the future of the continent.

Mr Makane Kane, Resident Representative of the United Nations Population Fund, said in addition to seeing the youth as untapped potential for economic growth, their reproductive health needs must also be met.

A former Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Aubrey Morantz, traced the political evolution of modern Ghana, arguing that some of the most outstanding African leaders who ever lived were youthful leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure and Julius Nyerere, who got involved in national governance at very early ages.

He asked the participants to draw lessons from their selfless and devotional leaders, and combine those attributes with hard work to succeed.

GNA

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