Giving Young Africans Skills, Decent Jobs, Peacebuilding Role Key to Making Most of Continent’s Demographic Dividend, Secretary-General Stresses

Following are UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ remarks on the Demographic Roadmap for Africa: Moving from Commitment to Action, in New York today:

I thank President [Alpha] Conde for convening this high-level event � and I thank so many distinguished leaders today for being here.

In my first month as Secretary-General, I attended the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa. I wanted to launch a new era of cooperation founded on a core conviction. I firmly believe the international community needs to change the narrative about the African continent. We need to establish a higher platform of cooperation that recognizes Africa’s enormous potential.

Nothing better represents that potential than Africa’s young people. Africa has the youngest population in the world. Already, one of every five young people in the world is from Africa. Africa’s youth population will continue to grow for decades to come.

I commend the African Union for your Demographic Dividend Roadmap. You are showing a commitment to put the needs, rights and capabilities of young people at the centre � and you are backing those commitments with action.

This is critical to meeting the goals of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; agendas that are really the same common agenda.

I see three keys to making the most of the demographic dividend. First, opportunity. We need to make sure that young people have the tools to succeed in the twenty-first century. That means education. Skills. Entrepreneurship. The chance for a decent job.

Second, we need to place a special focus on young women and girls. So many futures are derailed when young women are pushed out of school, subjected to child marriage, or have poor access to education and health care. Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa tens of billions of dollars a year; the same in all regions of the world. When we empower Africa’s young women and girls, everyone wins.

Third, we must recognize the power of young people as peacebuilders. We must not see youth as victims or perpetrators of violence. We need to fully engage young people in building peace, preventing conflict and forging solutions.

The United Nations looks forward to strengthening our work with the African Union on all these issues, including through the efforts of my Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake.

Let us spare no effort to make the most of the demographic dividend. For young people. For Africa. And for our world.

Source: United Nations

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