The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax has called for youth-focused and youth-led development programmes for meaningful transformation and sustainable development of the African continent.
Delivering a Key Note address at the 17th Africa Scout Conference in Harare, Republic of Zimbabwe on 10th September, 2018, H.E. Dr Tax, said the youth hold potential as an engine for growth, adding that, with good mentorship and equipped with the necessary skills, the youth can become the leaders of change and transformation, as well as advocates for peace and security and general human wellbeing.
H.E. Dr Tax hailed the Africa Scout Conference for the theme “Africa Scouting: Building Foundations for Sustainable Development”, which, she said, is well aligned to the 38th SADC Summit theme; Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063 which seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development
The SADC Executive Secretary added that the theme of the Conference embodies the spirit of leaving no one behind which is a central commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nation in 2015. On this note, H.E. Dr Tax commended the World Scout for its vision of ‘creating a better world; a world where development is sustainable, where there is equality and inclusion of all people, a world where young people are empowered and contribute positively to their communities, a world that is free from poverty and diseases, a world where there is peace and stability’.
She underscored the need for stakeholders to harness the demographic dividend of the youth, saying, according to the 2017 UN report estimates that the African continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more than double the 2015 total of 226 million by 2055, making Africa the fast growing continent with youngest population in the world.
H.E. Dr Tax said it is disheartening to note that, while the youth are visibly contributing as political actors, innovators, entrepreneurs and peacebuilders, they continue to face disproportionate social, economic and political barriers, which prevents them from unleashing their full potential to meaningfully contribute to Sustainable development.
The Executive Secretary called for concerted and collective efforts of all stakeholders, including public and private sector, academia, politicians, and non-state actors to put in place policies, strategies and practical initiatives that take everybody on board, and more importantly, build and utilize the youth as foundations for sustainable development and agents for African socio-economic transformation