Regional Youth Affairs Experts Conduct First Technical Meeting

Monday, June 14, 2021: Over sixty experts in youth affairs from Member States, the African Union and partner international organisations are meeting virtually to consider progress made on the implementation of the regional youth programme.

The three-day meeting, 14 – 16 June 2021, will also consider and adopt strategic policy documents aimed at enhancing youth participation in development at the regional and national level. The experts comprised of senior government officials in charge of youth affairs led by Permanent/Principal Secretaries and representatives from partner organizations.

Nine documents which have been developed to support the implementation of the COMESA Youth Programme in Member States will be reviewed. Among them the Report on the findings of Baseline Studies conducted in Member States, which analyses the opportunities and challenges that young people face regarding their participation in socio economic development and democratic governance.

The Report on the Joint COMESA/AUC-AGA Project on Youth Engagement in Democratic Governance and Socio- economic Development Processes and a presentation on the role of the youth in silencing the guns in COMESA Region will also be considered.

COMESA Assistant Secretary General in charge of Programmes Dr Kipyego Cheluget and Zambia’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport, Youth and Child Development Dr John Phiri addressed the meeting.

Dr Cheluget noted that out of the 600 million population of COMESA, the vast majority are youth.

“We cannot continue to do business as usual without the participation of the youth who hold more than half the sky. We are obliged and mandated to develop policies to engage the youth more meaningfully,” he said.

As part of implementation of the COMESA Social Charter the COMESA Youth Programme was developed and adopted in 2015 to facilitate the integration of youth developmental projects in COMESA work. The Programme is intended to empower young people in the region by promoting the creation of decent and productive work opportunities for youth in the private sector and by enhancing youth’s political participation, civic engagement, promote youth entrepreneurship, and active involvement in the regional integration process.

The Technical Committee will consider the policy and strategic documents presented at the meeting which will thereafter be presented to the Ministers responsible for youth affairs on 23 June, respectively.

Other documents for consideration are the report on the draft COMESA Youth Engagement Strategy – a framework to enhance youth engagement in thematic areas of COMESA, the draft Terms of Reference for the Establishment of COMESA Youth Advisory Panel, the Report on the draft COMESA Social Media Strategy, the Report on the draft COMESA Recruitment, Deployment and Management System for the Internship Program to institutionalize recruitment practices at national level and the Report on the Training Manual on youth in Electoral Processes and the Report on the draft Training Manual on Youth in Leadership as pan African standards and values.

The meeting also addressed by representatives from the African Union, the Swiss Agency for International Cooperation (SDC) and the International Trade Center (ITC).