South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday urged the continent's youth to participate in the realisation of the African Union's (AU's) Agenda 2063, saying that it was in the youth's hands to shape the future in which they wanted to live.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Durban, Zuma said young people needed to partake in all spheres of society, including politics, as he had done so himself by joining the struggle for freedom before he turned 20.
"It is absolutely important not to believe that for us to succeed, it is other people who must build. Th youth itself must participate, very seriously, to change the future for themselves together with the elders," Zuma said. "The critical point is that you are able to identify the destination and commitment, and then work on what is the best vehicle or methods to achieve that would help you best shape the future."
Zuma was fielding a question from a young Global Sharper from Mozambique who wanted to know how to speed up the ideals of Agenda 2063 and make youth partake in decision making processes because young people are impatient.
Agenda 2063 is the AU's strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.
About 70 percent of the continent is under 30, and WEF on Africa said this figure would rise even in so-called fragile settings. WEF on Africa said the continent's population of roughly 1.1 billion is expected to double by 2050.
Zuma also reiterated his message that his recent cabinet reshuffle had given younger members of Parliament a chance to contribute their energy, experience and expertise to government.
"Not long ago I had a reshuffle of government, particularly implementing that idea of evolving government. The reality is that we should not just talk about youth participation but we should involve them. I have seen them coming in in a number of governments and organisations," Zuma said.
"I think it's a question of us harmonising our thinking, and therefore having our plans and programmes to implement them. When one or two or more are put in very serious and responsible positions, they must demonstrate their energy, imagination and innovation, and they will reach a point."
Zuma said the youth had been given more opportunities even in the AU Summit in the recent past to express their ideas, adding that governments must do more to open those doors for young people.
- African News Agency (ANA)