Home World News Inside Africa Empowering West African Youth: ECOWAS Champions Digital Innovation for Growth and Stability

Empowering West African Youth: ECOWAS Champions Digital Innovation for Growth and Stability

Group Photo
Group Photo

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its partners have set a transformative agenda for the youth in the region, emphasizing the critical role of digital technology in fostering economic growth, peace, and stability.

This vision was articulated during the Youth-Voices-for-Change Forum, which commenced on June 5, 2024, in Accra, Ghana. The forum aims to harness the potential of digital innovations to address pressing regional challenges such as unemployment, irregular migration, insecurity, educational gaps, healthcare deficiencies, poverty, criminality, poor governance, misinformation, and violent extremism.

Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musa, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, highlighted the necessity of investing in science and technology, education, and vocational training to cultivate creative and responsive leaders. Represented by Amb. Francis Njoaguani, Director of the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, Dr. Musa stressed the importance of involving youth in policy discussions and decision-making processes, underscoring that their fresh perspectives can lead to more effective solutions.

The forum also emphasized the promotion of entrepreneurship by providing mentorship, access to capital, and a supportive ecosystem. Coaching young people in financial literacy was highlighted as a key strategy to empower them to manage money wisely and invest in their futures.

The youth demographic in West Africa, with 64% of the population under 24 years of age, represents both a challenge and an opportunity for peace-building stakeholders. Echoing the words of the late Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, Dr. Musa reminded participants that empowered youth could be key agents for development and peace.

Amb. Baba Gana Wakil, ECOWAS Resident Representative in Ghana, called for concrete actions to ensure inclusivity and fully harness the potential of the region’s youth. Other partners shared their perspectives, with Ina Pislaru from USAID West Africa emphasizing a shared vision and people-centered approach to sustainable development, and Levina Addae-Mensah from WANEP urging participants to engage fully for the benefit of the region.

Cross Section
Cross Section

UNOWAS Political Affairs Director Moudjib Djinadou and Dr. Daniel Bonsu of Ghana’s Ministry of National Security highlighted the crucial role of digital technology in improving trade and counterterrorism efforts in the region.

Supported by partners such as USAID, WANEP, UNOWAS, and DANIDA, the forum builds on the successes of its 2022 edition, aligning its goals with ECOWAS Vision 2050 and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The Youth-Voices-for-Change Forum stands as a beacon of hope, demonstrating the power of digital innovation in transforming the lives of West African youth and contributing to the region’s sustainable development.

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