Sierra Leonean president calls for youth inclusion in Africa

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The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mr Julius Bio, has called on African leaders to ensure youths inclusiveness in governance and development to address the increasing insecurity in the continent.

Bio made the call while delivering the Graduation Lecture of Course 27 of the National Defence College, titled “Youth Inclusiveness and Good Governance: Imperatives for Regional Security and Development” on Tuesday in Abuja.

He canvassed for the involvement of young people in all spheres of socio-economic and political developments in the continent.

Bio said that his government took cognisance of this by putting the youths in key positions of leadership in Sierra Leone.

According to him, financial inclusion, entrepreneurship, qualitative education, access to land, democratic inclusion and human capital developments are key areas of focus to get the youths engaged in productive ventures.

“For the purpose of sustainable development, peace and prosperity of Africa, the leaders in the continent should engage the youths through the platforms they are using, particularly with the advent of social media.

“It is my candid opinion that we should let young people know that their dreams matter and leaders should listen to them with empathy in that the youth of Africa will be competing tomorrow with robots, computers, data and human algorithm.

“We should engage them in the platforms they understand because they no longer understand our language and that is why they don’t seem to listen to us,” he said.

Bio said that African leaders must adopt strategy to tackle the exponential growth of youth population in the continent to avoid the risk of a full blown insurgency in the near future.

According to him, leaders across the world are concerned about the situation in Africa particularly as the youths are growing with the challenges of poor infrastructures, poverty, lack of opportunities, lack of quality education and rapid urbanisation among others.

He explained that statistics had shown that young people between age 0 and 24 represented over 60 per cent of African population, adding that it was projected to grow by 50 per cent in 2050.

“By 2050, sub-Sahara Africa will have overwhelming youth population in the world estimated to be in the region of 945 million people, meaning that compared with the South Asia, Western Europe and North America, by 2060, 86 per cent of the poorest people in the world will live in sub-Sahara Africa.

“So, one can easily deduce that the majority of the world’s poorest people will be young people who will be in our continent.

“It is therefore important that we provide solutions to this challenge because the youth population can be assets or liability depending on the approaches adopted by governments in the continent,” he said.

In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mrs Nuratu Batagarawa, said the lecture was apt considering the fact that Nigeria was currently grappling with challenges of insecurity occasioned by kidnapping, armed banditry, and insurgency among others.

Batagarawa said that governance failure to provide the youth with opportunities and basic necessities of life over the years have created tension across the country.

She said that if the youth population segment was not well managed, it would create problems especially youth restiveness with the negative implications on security and development.

The Commandant of NDC, Rear Admiral Mackson Kadiri, said that the Course 27 which comprises of 127 participants, made up of 50 from the Army, 21 from the Navy, 23 from the Air Force and 3 from the Nigerian Police.

Kadiri said the graduation lecture provided platforms for interaction on global issues bordering on security and development.

He said that there were 16 participants from Ministries and other agencies while 17 were Europe, America, Asia and Africa.