Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, the Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, says the continent can commence a journey towards an Africa Beyond Aid through a collective resolve to move it to a place of empowered lives.
She urged African businesses to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to add value to products across sectors to meet the demands of the market.
Ms Eziakonwa said this at the closing ceremony of the three-day Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Accra on the theme: “Africa Beyond Aid – Maximising Opportunities in the AfCFTA”.
She expressed optimism that through the AfCFTA, Africa’s youth could maximise the opportunities inherent in the “one Africa market.”
Ms Eziakonwa said she had been inspired to see the work of the continent’s courageous producers from fabric manufacturers of the legendary kente, to shea butter processors up north, which had promoted Africa in the world market.
She said Africa’s quest to rid itself of the dependence on aid required action and transformation in an environment that intentionally supported the youth to succeed.
“From the UNDP side, we have made good note of the need to scale up our actions in working with governments to press ahead on the urgently needed enabling environments for the youth to thrive,” Ms Eziakonwa said.
“We also have a renewed sense of urgency to scale up our programmes to support young people’s efforts for the Made in Africa Revolution,” she said.
Ms Eziakonwa said it was imperative to have a youth entrepreneurship programme and advisory board to champion their developmental activities for sustainable growth.
She said the UNDP was working to provide opportunities for the youth through internships and volunteerism to prepare them for the job market.
“We need to develop programmes to facilitate the integration of AfCFTA and offer support for national chapters where ever they are designed,” she said.
Mr Mustapha Ussif, the Minister of Youth and Sports, said governments and businesses around the world were committed to supporting the youth to reach their full potential and contribute to economic growth.
He said concrete actions like the establishment of the Youth Innovation Fund would help youth-led projects and enterprises to sustain the energy and momentum generated at the Summit.
The Minister said strategic investment, policies and programmes like business incubation, mentorship and affordable financing, could lift a whole generation of young entrepreneurs and skilled workers for prosperity.