How could youth contribute in the future partnership globally?

Introduction

I had worked for years within the UKAID International Citizen Service Programme, which objectives include the involvement of youth in worldwide development through international volunteering. I also have an academic background and work experience focused in economics and international development cooperation. Additionally, I was previously granted with a Erasmus scholarship as student from ACP country to study in Europe. Within this enriching experience I rubbed with young people from different countries with background. This has shaped my thoughts and helped me to better capture the power of youth to change the world positively.

Some personal experience and lessons

In general, I noted that youth doesn’t have access to the opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential. The reasons for that include the lack of knowledge and/or respect of human rights, also seen as a denial of opportunities. This in turn results in young people being pessimistic about the future, feeling socially excluded from decisions making, even sometimes “lost”. To address this, it’s important to seriously re-establish their confidence by engaging them in political dialogue, giving them more opportunities to innovate and educating them in global challenges to think globally and act locally for a global positive change.

Youth and international cooperation: the potential role of youth in the future partnership Europe-Africa

The current European or African context is reflected by instability and conflict, migration and refugee crisis, climate change, increasing gap between richest and poorest globally and within countries. The partnership Europe-Africa must then focus on tackling these issues as a matter of emergency and in general contribute to Sustainable Development Goals which are the framework for development globally until 2030. The role of youth in this ambitious plan can be seen in different ways. Young people are the driving forces of any economy, they are good in innovating and using IT; their voice carries far and discrimination is less perceptible within them. They are expected to build networks for experience sharing on vocational ideas, entrepreneurship techniques and technology based on comparative advantages of each country. To illustrate this, Western African youth is good in regional integration; European youth could share their knowledge of entrepreneurship, marketing concepts, IT, etc.

Indeed, in many African countries including Burkina Faso today, populations needs and expectations are high such that every sector is a priority.

The first good illustration is about economy and finance. Access to good payment and transfer services and credit is an issue for the majority of people namely in rural areas in Burkina Faso. Banks and financial institutions use to require a regular income to have an account while a small proportion of the population is employed formally. There are also some costs for transactions. Financial organisations are also not located in all areas across the country. These reasons result in loss of economic opportunities for individuals and communities’ development. By using the internet, it is possible today to build a more accessible and decentralized financial network involving cryptocurrencies. In a previous article, I explained why mobile banking is a success in Burkina Faso, which could be taken as an opportunity to spread blockchains.

In terms of health policy, it’s alarming. For the few privileged workers who have 80% health insurance, it is easier to receive a treatment in private clinics that have the reputation of being better (this information is not verified). But for the vast majority who are poor, it is a ‘survival fight’ in public health centers which are very poorly equipped in infrastructure (lack of scanner, lack of incubators, and many other things) and where the Specialized medical staff is not always available for various reasons. At some point it’s possible to say: ‘Just don’t fall sick in Burkina otherwise your chances of dying are much more higher than in normal context’. By developing common projects or charities, youth could contribute to tackle this issue.

The issue of energy provision is also accurate in many African countries, particularly in Burkina Faso where electricity shortage could last more than 10 hours during peak of needs (March-May). Western university students could bring their knowledge to transform the solar energy and reversely take this opportunity to do research in a real context.

Other examples could be taken to illustrate this point.

Youth and demography

The issue of harnessing the demographic dividend is fascinating. It’s topical in many African countries and more specifically in the ECOWAS zone, following a recent call from parliamentarians for lower fertility rates. This call is economically understandable considering the limited natural resources and difficulties for governments to take good care of populations. However, it’s very complicated when it comes to explaining people the reasons for lower birth rates. The rationales for giving birth are complex cross-culturally and within cultures. This could be part of the reasons why many demographic policies fail in the way they approach the idea of demographic dividend.

By raising youth awareness on urgent global challenges and investing on them, it is possible to harness the demographic dividend as promoted by the European Union. Investing on youth as mentioned above include giving them the opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential through participation in decision making, education, employment and respect of human rights at large. By tackling the demographic issue using youth, we are indirectly tackling the issues of conflict, migration and refugee crisis, climate change, etc.

Youth and global security

The issue of harnessing the demographic dividend is fascinating. It’s topical in many African countries and more specifically in the ECOWAS zone, following a recent call from parliamentarians for lower fertility rates. This call is economically understandable considering the limited natural resources and difficulties for governments to take good care of populations. However, it’s very complicated when it comes to explaining people the reasons for lower birth rates. The rationales for giving birth are complex cross-culturally and within cultures. This could be part of the reasons why many demographic policies fail in the way they approach the idea of demographic dividend.

By raising youth awareness on urgent global challenges and investing on them, it is possible to harness the demographic dividend as promoted by the European Union. Investing on youth as mentioned above include giving them the opportunities to thrive and reach their full potential through participation in decision making, education, employment and respect of human rights at large. By tackling the demographic issue using youth, we are indirectly tackling the issues of conflict, migration and refugee crisis, climate change, etc.

Conclusion

Youth is a driving force of any economy but it needs to be used appropriately for a positive impact. In this article based on my personal and professional experience, I tried to explain why and how youth could be involved in building a more cohesive, positive and peaceful world for all. This goes from their role in international cooperation through common and innovative projects development, to harnessing the demographic dividend and building peace.

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Achille Sawadogo

Achille Sawadogo

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner