Youth unemployment at the forefront of NEPAD’s 2nd Africa Rural Development Forum

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The 2nd Africa Rural Development Forum started on a high note in Yaounde, Cameroon, with experts agreeing that there is a need to come up with an implementable strategy to transform rural areas into the “New emerging rural world”

According to the forum, Youth and women employment and empowerment will characterize this “new emerging rural world.”  The strategy for achieving this will include catalysing the food and agriculture system; Stimulating growth of rural non-farm economies, building and sustaining the rural human capital base; building institutions for rural transformation and ensuring political will as the over-riding mover of rural transformation in Africa.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Cameroon, H.E. Philemon Yang spoke on the role that the youth play as the main lever of economic development.

“Our country wages on agriculture and development of rural areas to reach emergence status by 2035. The NEPAD Agency’s work and position confirms these two major options of our national development strategy” he said.

“It is increasingly clear, that advancing rural transformation, is not pity or charity to the rural populations. It is critical and integral success factor for Africa’s sustainable economic growth and inclusive development agenda. Attaining Arica’s aspirations and goals, to a large extent depends on the change (transformation) in Africa’s rural areas – both in location and people terms.” said Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Agency CEO.

“My core message therefore is not to state the obvious that “rural transformation is important and a priority for Africa”. We’ve known this for decades. The focus of my remarks is on “how do we make it happen” he said.

The Forum also hosted the launch of the 2nd edition of the Atlas of Rural Development in Africa. Officially launched by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cameroon and the NEPAD Agency CEO during the opening ceremony, the Atlas provides a reference on the state of transformation in rural areas and will help monitor the change over time. It also identifies the trends on  “New emerging rurality presepectives on Africa rural transformations”

Quoting an aspiration from the Agenda 2063 vision for Africa, the NEPAD Director for Programme implementation and Coordination, Mrs Estherine Lisinge- Fotabong said : “We aspire that, Youth  unemployment  will  be  eliminated,  and  Africa’s  youth  guaranteed  full   access  to  education,  training,  skills  and  technology,  to  health  services,  jobs   and  economic  opportunities,  recreational  and  cultural  activities  as  well  as  to financial means to allow them to realize their full potential.”

She underscored that rural transformation succeeds only when driven by the entire economy and strong public polcy intervention meaning there is need to: expand the domestic markets; create backward and forward linkages within and between rural and urban sector; and pursue a multi-sector approach to rural transformation.

The AU/NEPAD Rural Futures strategy and agenda for Africa focuses on this crucial issue of employment, it is about driving every nation and the continent towards full employment in both rural and urban areas.

The Forum brought together Member States representatives at various levels including Ministers, experts, civil society including youth and private sector, development partners and local authorities who in the end agreed that “Jobs in Rural areas and the dynamism of African Youths Leapfrogs the development and transformation of the continent”.