Nardos Bekele-Thomas in : “Energize Africa Initiative Advances Youth and Women To Lead Developmental Strategies”

Nardos Bekele- Thomas, the AUDA-NEPAD Chief Executive Officer has remarked: “The Energize Africa initiative is about harnessing youths’ creativity and skills into the continent’s economic growth and development, whilst expanding income opportunities for the youth – through creation of jobs, innovation, and entrepreneurship.” She was speaking on the margins of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York. The Energize Africa initiative recognises that Africa’s youth and women – making up more than half of the continent’s populations – must be at the core of Africa’s economic growth and inclusive development strategies.

The African Union Development Agency-NEPAD in partnership with Afreximbank, co-launched the AUDA-NEPAD Energize Africa initiative last week. Moreover, Energize Africa’s focus is on young professionals to enhance public sector efficiency; stimulate solution-focused research and development, through innovation hubs, and; Entrepreneurshippportunities for Africa’s youthful populations for improved socio-economic well-being. Prof Benedict Okey Oramah, President and Chairman of Board of Directors, Afreximbank remarked that, “The Energize Africa collaboration is a demonstration of the partnership with AUDA-NEPAD towards ensuring that youth are at the core of our development.

The youth are indeed the leaders of tomorrow.” And recognising that the continent with the highest percentage of entrepreneurs among working- age adults is Africa, AUDA-NEPAD has designed the Energize Africa initiative as a continental platform of youth professionals, institutions, and facilities to strengthen innovative solutions, skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship. “If we do not harness the youth dividend, it will remain a “potential.” Energize Africa is an opportunity to invest in the future of Africa,” Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission said during the high-level opening session of the launch event.

“My presence here today is meant to signal the political commitment of the African Union Commission to ensure we see change on the issue of youth employment in Africa, within the context of Agenda 2063,” Dr Nsanzabaganwa added. Several messages of support from Energize Africa patrons and champions were delivered during the launch. “Energizing Africa is indispensable to leverage Africa’s most valuable resource, its human capital. It is important for supporting start-ups to get on their feet and serve as long-term sources of innovation and growth – put simply, by giving young people a chance to design their future.

Let us join efforts to energize Africa and build, the Africa we want, to ensure that no one is left behind,” stated Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations in her message of support.

Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia remarked that, “Real consultation with youth to build viable programmes will be key to making Energize Africa a success.” While Ambassador Dr John N. Nkengasong, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State congratulated the AUDA-NEPAD CEO on the launch of Energize Africa. He concurred with Ms Bekele-Thomas in highlighting the fact that the initiative promises to mobilise young people across the continent and to transform the public sector.

Elaborating on the context of Energize Africa in the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene said that “The African Continental Free Trade Area offers opportunities for seamless access to new markets, particularly in digital technologies.” The importance of strengthening relations between the private and public sectors in creating a brighter future for Africa’s youth was expounded on by Dr James Mwangi, CEO Equity Bank, who committed to also championing Energize Africa with AUDA-NEPAD. In addition, Messages of support for Energize Africa were also received from Jean Van Wetter, Director General of the Belgian Development Agency and Sebastian Ashong-Katai from Ecobank. The successful launch of Energize Africa concluded with the unanimous acknowledgement that youth are partners for the sustainable development, peace, and prosperity of Africa, with a unique contribution to make to the continent’s present and future development, continental leaders added.


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