Feature story

African young people are shaping their future

27 May 2014

More than 1500 young people, entrepreneurs, government representatives and heads of state gathered in Libreville, Gabon, on 23 May for the African Citizens’ Summit. The event was an opportunity for participants to reflect on how to improve the future of Africa while investing in youth and to establish dialogue between youth and decision-makers.

During the past decade, African economies have been among the fastest growing in the world, and this trend is expected to accelerate over the coming decades. Nevertheless, the challenge of high growth rates but low levels of investment in people pose a challenge to Africa’s development. “We would like to show to youth that they are at the centre of our preoccupations, and dialogue must be permanently maintained between us in order to anticipate and share with them the ambition of their development,” said Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, who opened the Summit.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé reminded the participants that “Africa is going through rapid transformation and the continent must choose its own paradigm.”

The discussions were drawn directly from the findings of a survey carried out by Train my Generation, the vocational training fund created and set up by New York Forum Africa, on the opinions of young Africans.

The results showed that 90% of young people think that their lives are better than those of their parents. They are optimistic and believe that education is the key to their future. Even though most young people think that they possess a real spirit of entrepreneurship, access to capital to start businesses remains difficult, and economic problems and unemployment are recurrent worries.

To face all these challenges, Jeff Martin, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tribal Brands and Tribal Technologies, encouraged youth in Africa to “Think like global citizens.” “It will allow you to see trends and opportunities that other people will not see,” he added.

During his visit to Gabon, Mr Sidibé also attended the opening ceremony of the New York Africa Forum and met with the Prime Minister of Gabon, Daniel Ona Ondo, and the interim President of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza.