“We must empower rural youth” Rural Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship

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Kigali, Rwanda, August 21, 2018 - “The support from the NEPAD Agency has had immense impact on the lives of the youth we have been training in our youth centre. Out of the 41 youth we trained through this project, 31 are already running their own businesses,” said Mrs Hannah Enanga Ewoke.

Mrs Enanga Ewoke, Director for the Regional Multipurpose Youth Training Centre in Buea, South West, Cameroon, was speaking at the NEPAD Agency and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) side event on Creating Decent Rural Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship.

The event took place on 21 August, on the margins of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. It was moderated by Mrs Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, the NEPAD Agency Director of Programmes. The event was attended by Ministers from Angola, South Sudan, Deputy Minister, Rwanda and AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture H.E Sacko Josefa Leonel Correa.

Mrs Enanga Ewoke continued to acclaim that through this support, the youth training centre has been able to recruit trainers who are experts in their field and have been able to inculcate critical skills to the youth trainees. “Youth from the most underprivileged rural areas in Cameroon have been given an opportunity to become entrepreneurs and they now understand that agriculture can be an income generation source,” she said.

Her sentiments were also echoed by another implementing partner of this NEPAD Agency led project, Mr Rouffahi Koabo, CEO of CIPMEN in Niger. “We have encompassed the element of new age technology in training youth in agriculture. NEPAD Agency has been a critical link in us accessing information that we use in training this youth. We have made strides in the reduction of youth unemployment in Niger,” he said.

Some of the youth beneficiaries also shared their experiences and highlighted the critical role that the project called ‘Promoting Decent Rural Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship in Agriculture and Agribusiness’ has had in reducing unemployment, enhancing youth empowerment, agriculture development and entrepreneur development in rural areas. The project is funded by the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund and also receives technical support from the FAO. It is currently implemented in four countries - Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger.

Mr Bukari Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa elucidated that the partnership between NEPAD Agency and FAO will serve as a catalyst in implementing sustainable projects. He stated that this project is one such example of a project that will help in empowering youth on a sustainable basis. “The zero-hunger generation of Africa is sitting in this room, our role is to empower them to deliver on this mandate which is also tied to the realisation of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs,” he said.

The event served as a platform to present the Promoting Decent Rural Youth and Entrepreneurship in Agriculture project, share lessons and experiences from various players and stakeholders on how the project can be improved. Mrs Fati N’zi Hassane, Head of Skills and Employment for Youth gave a brief overview on the objectives of the event and outlined the work done within the programme.

Mrs Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, NEPAD Agency Director of Programmes underscored the urgent need to address the empowerment of youth in rural areas and brought to the fore the role that the project plays in this critical area.