120 young people drawn from the 5 Partner States of the East Africa Community and other delegates from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Republic of Ghana, convened in Kampala August 9 – 11, 2012 for the inaugural East Africa Regional Youth Conference, interfacing with officials of the EAC and Ministries responsible for Youth Affairs in the Partner States as well development partners working with youth related programs.
The conference was convened by the Uganda Youth Network in partnership with the Ministry of East African Community Affairs and was graced by Hon. Munya Peter, the Kenyan Assistant Minister of East African Community Affairs and Hon. Eriyo Jesca, the Deputy Secretary General of the EAC.
The conference was aimed at addressing key concerns of the region’s youth, who despite their demographic composition remain on the periphery of development and governance discourses. Under the theme; ‘Taking the Helms, Crafting the Future; Youth Activism for a Dynamic East African Community’ a Joint Programme of Action was developed which among other things, set proposals for viable mechanisms and frameworks for galvanizing and centring youth voices in regional law making processes.
Young people, 35 years and below, make up about 70 percent of the population of the five countries that make the East African Community. But in spite of these numbers, they remain largely on the sidelines of major planning that will ultimately not just affect them but the future of their countries as well.
Emmanuel Kitamimirike the Executive Director – Uganda Youth Network stated that ‘the joint programme of action presents actions that should be undertaken at EAC and Partner States levels to address the issues of youth unemployment and participation in trade, business and the EAC integration processes
Hon. Munya Peter, while opening the conference affirmed that ‘the EAC Council of Ministers will with ease receive the proposed programme of action, debate and forward viable proposals to the summit for adoption’. The deputy Secretary General on her part commended the initiative and recommended the conference to be adopted by the EAC and organized on an annual basis hosted on a rotational basis by the EAC partner states. In this, young people from East Africa would regularly interface with the political actors and the EAC leadership on issues that affect their well being and mainstream their active participation in the EAC integration processes.
The developed programme of action proposes fast tracking the formulation of the EAC
Youth Policy as a matter of urgency, which will in turn make it possible to institute the EAC Youth Council to serve best the interest of the youths in the region. Also proposed was the EAC Regional Youth Investor’s Round Table for young women and men in trade and business to reinforce support mechanisms for their business sustainability across the region. At Partner States level, actions proposed ranged from those addressing skills development through education and training; policy and institutional frameworks; promotion of business and trade participation opportunities; and enacting and enforcing a law to combat graft in individual Partner States.
The programme of action was officially handed to the Deputy Secretary General, who committed the EAC support in ensuring the realization of the recommendations therein. Details of the programme of action HERE THE JOINT EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY YOUTH PROGRAMME OF ACTION3