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Commonwealth Africa Forum on Africa's Political Future

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Lagos

Lagos, LA

Nigeria

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Why We Are Gathering

Young people in Africa are increasingly becoming aware of their leadership potentials; many are now change makers whose voices matter in relevant global issues. Through the apartheid regime in South Africa in the early 1990s, the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia in 2011, the 2012 ‘Enough is enough!’ campaigns in Senegal to the third-term revolution in Burkina Faso in 2014, young people remain at the forefront of democratic struggles on the African continent.

However, the participation of these young people who constitute one third of Africa’s population in mainstream politics remains largely limited. Pre-occupied by economic survival and intimidated by the monetized political structures, their contributions seldom exceed the protests and social media engagements. While they contribute the bulk of the continent’s electorates, their active involvement in traditional politics and representative democracy is systemically weakened.

This exclusion has often resulted in young people finding other means to convey their dissatisfaction. Such frustration usually turns to civil unrest and violence especially in transitional and fragile states.

The inclusion of Young Africans in political processes is however crucial to sustainable stability and peace. Furthermore, youth engagement in formulating Africa’s future politics is crucial as inclusive participation is a fundamental political and democratic right.

It’s time for a new generation of African leaders!

Recent events have shown that youths are critical in bringing about social and political transformation in Africa. However there’s a need to transform the spontaneous street protests into a more steady form of political action. The increasing Youth energy cum leadership awareness must be harnessed for national development on the continent.

The election of 39-year old Emmanuel Macron, the youngest president yet in the history of France is another tremendous addition to the fast growing number of young world leaders. Luxembourg, Belgium, Canada, and Ireland among many others have subscribed to the new trend of youthful political leadership. This has further energized the call for the election of young leaders in Africa where over twenty African countries are governed by Presidents in their 70s and above. A comparison of these countries with others led by younger leaders both in Africa and beyond reveals a wide margin in the level of development and ingenuity in leadership.

While there is apparently nothing wrong with being old, there are two questions good leaders ask themselves: can I still do the best job? And who will succeed me? There must therefore be a deliberate attempt to eradicate the systemic alienation of Young Africans from the political process in a conscious attempt to secure a great political future for the continent. These attempts must reflect on constitutional amendments that will create rooms for younger leaders and establish platforms for political mentorship for the upcoming.

With the emergence of a well-informed and ambitious youth population in Africa, there’s need to explore the full impact of the dynamic between a powerful, old elite and the next generation of aspiring leaders. Young Africans therefore require political leadership opportunities and avenues to be able to gain experience and use their abilities and talents to contribute to the Africa’s development.

This why the CAFI Forum on Africa’s Political Future will gather decision makers including Government Leaders and young political leaders across the continent in Nigeria to rub minds on how Africa will open up and integrate young leaders into its political space. The high profile event will highlight how young people can bring new visions and ideas to the political sphere and evolve into key democratic stakeholders, a sentiment expressed in the African Youth Charter: ‘Africa’s greatest resource is its youthful population and through their active and full participation, Africans can surmount the difficulties that lie ahead’ (African Union Commission 2006: 1).

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Lagos

Lagos, LA

Nigeria

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