Lusaka, Monday 6 November 2017: COMESA Secretariat has developed a regional Youth Internship and Volunteer Programme whose overall objective is to increase youth employment of decent and productive jobs for young graduates. The programme will particularly target young women graduates in the region who join the labour market every year.
The programme has received technical and financial support from the United Nations Volunteer programme (UNV), and is expected to contribute to the full achievement of the COMESA Youth programme.. This follows a COMESA Council of Ministers decision of March 2015 that sought to address various challenges that young women and men in the region experience in order to empower and enable them take up active roles in the development of their respective countries and the region.
In addition to this new programme, COMESA has been implementing various other programmes for the promotion of gender equality, women economic empowerment and social development. These programmes include the 50 million African Women Speak Platform and the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation project that support women small scale cross border traders.
The development of the programme was announced during the opening of the regional workshop on ‘Empowerment of Youth through capacity building and entrepreneurship development’. COMESA collaborated with the UN Women, the African-Asian Rural Development organization (AARDO) and the Zambian government to host the workshop.
Addressing participants at the workshop, Assistant Secretary General in Charge of programmes Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget invite all youths in the region to take keen interest in the programme as it is meant to empower them by creating decent and productive work opportunities.
In his statement, AARDO Assistant Secretary General Dr Manoj Nardeosingh said his organization is committed to empower youths as they are key to building and shaping the future. He called on African governments, policy makers and the private sector to take the initiative to build capacity of the young population by addressing skills gaps, credit needs and market access among other issues.
“Many African countries have strategies for the development of your young people but these do not necessarily translate into better lives for the young. Innovation and technology need to be the game changer for the young people,” Dr Nardeosingh added.
Permanent Secretary in Zambia’s Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child development Mrs. Agness Musunga urged the youths to actively participate in the deliberations and share ideas and practical experiences and interventions undertaken in the various countries to address challenges that youths face.
The two-day meeting in Lusaka has attracted participants from the COMESA Secretariat, UN Women and Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Sudan and Zambia.