About 60 youth leaders from different universities, political parties, youth organizations and networks, entrepreneurship and disability groups have taken part in this year’s youth indaba under the theme of ‘building an enabling environment for youth leadership and participation in development’.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) in collaboration with Centre for Governance and Leadership (CEGOL) organized the indaba at Crossroads Hotel in Blantyre last Wednesday where Malawi Planning Commission also shared with the leaders the Malawi vision 2063.
Deputy Mayor for Blantyre City, Councillor Balaba Kanojerera, said during the conference that there is need of investing in the youth programmes for the development of the country.
Kanojerera said the country will keep on struggling to achieve the pinnacle of development if stakeholders will not invest in deliberate efforts aimed at advancing youth leadership in democratic governance and socio-economic development.
“We need to seriously start tapping from the numbers, energies, skills and creativity of young people in driving our country’s economy. Mega farms, technological innovations, industrial revolutions are all achievable if the youth can be adequately supported to take lead,” said Kanojerera.
In her remarks, Principal Youth Officer in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Chikondi Chasukwa said government is implementing a number of programmes targeting the youth in the country.
She cited the National Economic Empowerment Fund loans being offered to the youth and women, Jobs for youth project, graduate internship program and the National Youth Service that is set to be rolled out.
Adrien Ndayisaba who represented Comesa during the Indaba stated that Comesa in partnership African Union-African Governance Architecture (AU-AGA) are implementing a 3-year-pilot project on Youth Engagement in Democratic Governance and Socio-Economic processes in Africa with financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Ndayisaba said COMESA decided to support the Indaba as it falls under the outcomes of the COMESA Youth Leaders Bootcamp that was an activity under the Comesa/AU-AGA project that aim increasing youth empowerment and participation in entrenching democratic values and culture towards the promotion of accountable governance.
In his remarks, CEGOL Executive Director Chimwemwe Kaonga emphasized on the need for the Malawi government and other stakeholders to provide room for engagement with young people so that they lead in designing their aspirations for the benefit of the country.
Kaonga who is also an alumnus of COMESA Youth Leaders Bootcamp that took place in Tanzanian capital, Arusha, said the conference is a timely intervention that presented a great opportunity to build resilience of young people and addressing the root causes of many of the key challenges facing the sector including youth discrimination in decision-making hierarchies.
“Despite existence of democracy for many years in this country but we have seen young people have been experiencing various limitations in as far as their participation in political and civic spaces is concerned. We have seen limited number of young people participating and voted into offices, we have witnessed majority of young people not taking frontline action in the development agenda.
“Youths need to be given opportunity of formulating visions and plans of this country and be allowed to take part in implementation of those plans,” said Kaonga.