COMESA and AU/AGA Push for second Phase of Youth Engagement Project

The pilot phase of the Joint AU/AGA-COMESA Project on Youth Engagement in Democratic Governance and Socio-economic Development Processes in Africa came to an end on 30 June as the implementing and cooperating partners held the Fourth Project Steering Committee at the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia.

The meeting brought together representatives from the African Union Commission (AUC), African Governance Architecture (AGA) Secretariat which was COMESA’s implementing partner, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which was the co-operating partner.

COMESA Assistant Secretary General (Admin & Finance) Dr Dev Haman presided over the opening of the two-day Steering Committee meeting on 29 June 2023. He  lauded the project as a great success, citing the capacity building of youth leaders, support for youth networks and development of knowledge products that were undertaken since implementation began in June 2019.

Ms Patience Chiradza, Director for Governance and Conflict Prevention at the AU congratulated the partners upon the successful execution of the pilot phase, adding that the AU recognizes the critical role citizens play in democratic governance, conflict prevention and sustainable peace.

“The African citizens, particularly young women and men, are important stakeholders in unpacking governance and holding our institutions accountable. The project also has a healthy balance between issues of democratic governance and socio-economic development which are different faces of the same coin,” Ms Chiradza said. “This is why we need to double down on our efforts and ensure that phase 2 of this project happens.”

On behalf of SDC, Ms Sarah Fankhauser, Head of Finance, Personnel and Administration spoke of the “need to celebrate the project’s achievements” and praised its coping mechanisms in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are very happy that targets were achieved even far beyond what was set out,” Ms Fankhauser said, adding that “strong leadership and ownership” had been crucial and making young people drivers of change was key.

The deliberations of the two-day meeting focused on the findings of the final evaluation of the project, presentation of the financial report and audit report and the way forward following the pilot phase.

Dr Haman thanked SDC and the AU through AGA Secretariat “for the quality of partnership which we enjoyed during the pilot phase of this project.”

“I wish to affirm COMESA’s readiness to continue working with SDC and AUC-AGA and I look forward to continuing our discussions on obtaining support for the implementation of the second phase,” he stated.

Other delegates who attended the meeting included Amb Salah Hammad, Head of the AGA and APSA Secretariat, Ms Beatrice Hamusonde, Director for Gender and Social Affairs, Amb Salvator Matata, COMESA Liaison Officer with the African Union and SDC Senior Regional Governance Adviser (Eastern and Southern Africa), Ms Annonciate Ndikumasabo, among others.

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