|COMY IV meeting room at the new AU Premises|
It is my first opportunity to officially use the magnificent new AU premises. The building however ought to take into consideration the unique needs of people with disabilities, especially wheel chair users and deaf people. I have met many officials, made new friends and shared contacts. All this is done as we strive to uplift the status of Africa’s youth.
COMY IV began well with a good attendance of Ministers and their delegations, as well as representatives of different development agencies and youth organizations. It has given us an opportunity to not only get new insight on youth empowerment and learn from each other, but it also enabled review on progress and agree on what to do for the betterment of Africa’s youth.
Its evident here that since the Malabo decisions and the Ouagadougou action plan, some countries have made important strides in youth empowerment, as discussed during the proceedings. Take the example of Rwanda and Uganda, which have appointed young ministers to head the Youth Ministries; setting aside a fund for youth empowerment among others. We have had lengthy discussions on the different presentations made and this shows how member states are keen on pursuing the youth agenda.
There were calls for the operationalization of an African Youth Fund and also calls for support to strengthen the Pan African Youth Union. This will be a vital step in unleashing the potentials of African youth.
Unfortunately, there was no youth representation in many of the delegations. A large percentage of those who came are the old generation. My call would be that for future COMY gatherings, member states should strive to ensure delegations have at least two young people.
We can not overemphasize the need for active involvement and participation of young people in discussions which affect them. I feel that we, African youth, should not wait for our elders to think for us on what works best for us, rather, we should think for them and inform them what will work best for us.
Robert Nkwangu is the AYP focal person for the East African region. He is a trained professional in Social Sector Planning and Management. He holds a Master’s Degree in this area. He is Deaf by disability but with speech. He is a children and youth activist especially for those who are the most vulnerable and marginalised. As a civil society activist, he has worked with various organizations in Uganda and is also a member of the Kampala Capital City Authority Youth Council in addition to other political and professional capacities.