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President Uhuru Kenyatta calls for greater participation of youth in Africa in political and economic affairs

…as 2021 Youlead Summit starts in Arusha, Tanzania

East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 9th November, 2021: The President of the Republic of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, has urged fellow African leaders to prioritize the participation of youth on the continent in economic and political affairs Africa to expand Africa’s productive workforce and promoting entrepreneurship. 

President Kenyatta said that the youth had lots of energy and ideas that could be harnessed as positive instruments of change to counteract the adverse impact of COVID-19 and climate change. 

 “I urge my fellow leaders and policymakers to prioritize the creation of a conducive environment that will unlock the potential of the continent’s youth, to enable them contribute effectively to development,” President Kenyatta, who is also the Chairperson of the Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State. 

In a speech read on his behalf by Hon. Adan Mohamed, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development at the 5th East African Youth Leadership Summit, popularly known as YouLead Summit, the President said the political and economic participation of Africa’s youth does not currently reflect the proportion of youth in society.  

“As African Heads of State, we can do better. This proportion can and should increase. Only then, will we be able to reap the full benefits of our continent’s demographic dividend,” he said. 

The Head of State challenged the youth in the region not waste their precious internet bundles on online content that will not add to their skills and expertise.  

“We need you, the youth of Africa, to be at the forefront of cutting edge technologies, and advising us on what will work best in our countries,” he said. 

President Kenyatta advised the youth that leadership works collectively, strategically and patiently through a problem, splitting it into its various parts, and remembering the diversities and nuances that may not be apparent at first glance. 

 H.E Jakaya Kikwette ( R) with the EAC Secretary General, Dr. Peter Mathuki  during the high level session of the YouLead Summit

On his part, the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania who also doubled as the Patron of YouLead, H.E Jakaya Mrisho Kikwette, said the EAC has placed young people at the centre of the integration agenda considering the majority population of 65% of East Africa is under 30 years old. 

The former president informed the youth that the commitment to improve the lives, access to education and opportunity for the Youth remains paramount to the goal of achieving the aspirations of Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 and the EAC Vision 2050.  

“I call upon you as youth of East Africa and Africa as a whole, to seize the initiative to become one of the most skilled populations in the world, in order to compete favourably against other continents,” said President Kikwete. 

He reaffirmed the importance of education as the central to development and improvement of the lives of young people that are the present and future of Africa. Unfortunately, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa was in the midst of a grave-learning crisis.  

An estimated 100 million children and young people were out of school. And school closures during COVID more than doubled the number of African children who are out of their classrooms added, the president 

President Kikwete cautioned the youth that without the foundational skills that education provides, young people cannot fully participate in the social, economic, and political processes that shape their future.  

“When our youth miss out on gaining those skills, Africa loses out on sustained, inclusive, and equitable economic growth and development,” said the retired President. 

The former president called for regional Larders and Africa as whole to ensure that not only is every girl and boy is accessing education, but that they are also building the foundational technical and socio-emotional skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.  

“This is why the Global Partnership for Education, which I chair, is partnering with 41 African countries to transform our education systems,” he said. 

He commended the African governments that committed to protect, prioritize, and increase domestic financing for education at the Global Education Summit in London earlier this year. 

Selfie time: H.E Jakaya Kikwete  during a selfie moment with a group of young people shortly  after the opening session of the YouLead Summit 2021

The EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, said that the Community cherishes the meaningful participation of youth in promoting regional integration in EAC and Africa at large.  

Dr. Mathuki disclosed that 42% of the global population of 7.7 billion were aged under 25. Africa stands out as the youngest continent with 60% of the current 1.4 billion population falling under the age of 25 years. In East Africa, youth will form 75% of the population by 2030. Now  

“Now is the right time to invest in young people, promote dialogue and understanding across cultures and generations as well as establish a structure approach on youth engagement with the policy makers,” said Dr. Mathuki.   

He commended the governments of EAC Partners States for continued empowering the youth through deliberate enabling policy, infrastructural, ethical, and regulatory frameworks that promote innovation. 

“I challenge you to step out of your comfort zones and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the East African region to develop the social and economic aspects of the citizenry,” said Dr. Mathuki.  

The YouLead Summit 2021, themed The Future of Africa: Creating Jobs, Feeding, and Housing the World’s Youngest Continent” is East Africa’s largest and most diverse forum of young leaders across multiple sectors.   

The vibrant forum provide a platform for old and young, experienced and novice, to meet, interact and discuss development issues without prejudice.  

The five-day YouLead Summit is considering several thematic areas including; re-inventing leadership for East African millennials; youth at the center of peacebuilding and conflict prevention; accelerating economic opportunities and decent work for youth; and young people mobilizing towards Goal 5 of Agenda 2030 (gender equity and women’s empowerment) and Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063.  

For more information, please contact:

Simon Peter Owaka
Senior Public Relations Officer
Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
EAC Secretariat
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 768 552087
Email: sowaka [at] eachq.org

About the East African Community Secretariat:

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001: 2015 Certified

East African Community
EAC Close
Afrika Mashariki Road
P.O. Box 1096
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac@eachq.org