Banjul+10, a youth celebration to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the African Youth Charter (AYC), was officially opened with a statement by the Vice President of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, HE. Dr. Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy in Banjul, The Gambia on the 24th of May 2016. Other keynote speakers present were: H.E Mr. Alieu Jammeh, the Gambian Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Mabingue Ngom, UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa (WCARO), Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST) at the African Union Commission (AUC), H.E. Dr. Martial De Paul Ikounga and Pan African Youth Union President (PYU), Ms. Francine Muyumba.
Consultations with youth from all over the continent were held for three days prior to the official opening of the event to gather a general overview of the most pressing and fundamental problems young Africans face – from a youth perspective – and ways in which the demographic dividend can be harnessed. Key areas of deliberation were youth participation in governance and decision-making on the continent, health, education and skills development and employment and entrepreneurship for youth economic empowerment. Banjul+10 is essentially is a platform to review progress that has been made, the challenges involved in the implementation of the Charter, and to chart a future course of action.
H.E. Dr. Njie-Saidy in her opening address highlighted the importance of the African Youth Charter and encouraged Member States which have not ratified the Charter to do so urgently. She further stated that the youth cannot be excluded from decision making processes and “should be involved in decision making right from the beginning” because young people are “an asset and not a liability” and the “most critical investment in Africa must be made in women and youth.”
AUC Commissioner, H.E De Paul Ikounga, reminded the auditorium that there are still States which have not ratified the Charter and urged the Gambian Vice President to call on the outstanding Member States to sign and ratify the Charter by December 2016. Representing the UNFPA, Mr. Mabingue Ngom in his address lauded the African Youth Charter as a great legal and political document for youth development in Africa. The Minister of Youth and Sports in the Islamic Republic of The Gambia in his speech stated that it is time African States recognize the inherent potential of young people on the continent and do what is necessary to accelerate the process of youth empowerment and development.
The President of the Pan African Youth Union (PYU), Ms. Francine Muyumba highlighted that the success in fighting against terrorism and youth radicalization relies on the capacity of the African societies to create adequate opportunities that will address the issue of youth unemployment and entrepreneurship. She recalled that the coming African Youth Entrepreneurship Summit in Algeria and the World Entrepreneurship in Kenya will provide a forum for dialogue in order to accelerate the implementation of the Charter. Moving forward, she emphasized the need for more resources to be allocated towards the implementation of African youth development programs. Indeed, dependence on partners is not sustainable. It is in this vein that she urged African leaders to establish an African Youth Development Fund by the year 2017 to fast track African youth socio-economic integration and empowerment.