Happy New Year, 2019!
It is with great excitement that I write this letter to my comrades and all African youths – whether resident in Africa or outside it. Having experienced a wonderful and impact-filled 2018 with many young people across the continent, I have no doubt that this note – which is my annual correspondence to young people every first day of the year – would help many of us sit upright this year for the tasks ahead and in the pursuit of the Africa We Want. I have always received feedbacks; but in this special project-filled year, strategic feedbacks should lead to collaboration for Africa’s development.
Firstly, it is important for us to note that 2019 comes with a dozen of general elections in our continent. It is in this year that African democracy will face some of its biggest tests. Our duty as young people would be to exude the moral courage and act responsibly towards one another despite our political differences. There should be no room for certain pre and post election violence which will defame our rich culture and history. Already, a new wave is sweeping across the continent as elections are increasingly yielding younger leadership than ever before. Whilst this is good news, I think more of our support should be channeled to leaders who are drivers of Africa’s Renaissance – because our continent needs an assertive generation who are able to contribute and lead change in the face of emerging global challenges to build better and stable economies for us all.
The ongoing reform of the African Union (AU) is a pointer that, indeed, Africa is on the right track in the realization of the Agenda 2063. I am particularly happy because more countries are expected to sign up and ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which should be the real game-changer for African economies. This year will also mark the 50th anniversary for the adoption of the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugees Problems in Africa. Under the 2019 theme, the AU and member states will work to give support to Refugees, Returnees and IDPs within the continent – and effect durable solutions to forced displacement. Africa is our home – and as young people, we must creatively look into our continent to find vital opportunities and harness them. Yes, if you surfed the Internet, you would realize that Mr. Tony Elumelu opened the fifth cycle of application for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme today. Another opportunity for our young people!
The fight against corruption still continues – and we must win because winning will provide the sustainable path to our transformation. There is no better consensus than the one reached by the AU Heads of State in establishing a monitoring mechanism to fight against domestic and cross-border corruption through collaboration. Corruption is the greatest enemy of Africa’s development; even as young people, we ought to play our role by combatting corruption within our small circles of influence. If a prosperous and united Africa is what we all really want, then grooming – for Africa – future leaders with character and competence remains a modern-day imperative.
What we intend to do in the Young African Leaders Forum (YALF) this year is to positively improve the living conditions of 5000 youths, women and girl children through our IMPACT5000 project plan. This vision will empower Africa’s young people and make them active participators in the society who will improve their own lives, solve their own needs and advocate for the needs of those around them. I strongly believe that Africans will witness great and very innovative change efforts towards the development of our continent – this year. And like the email from the future revealed, youths will play greater roles in making this happen. We must be prepared!
2019 will be another remarkable year in the history of our continent!
Happy New Year, African Youths…
Founder, Young African Leaders Forum (YALF)