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100 youths from 44 African countries are meeting in Kigali for a two-week exercise ahead of the 9th edition of the African Union Youth Volunteers Corps.

A cross-section of African youth volunteers during the meeting in Kigali yesterday. They will be deployed to serve different countries on the content next year

The 12-month youth volunteer programme is set to commence in 2019 under which the trainees will be deployed to different countries across the continent to contribute to their progress.

The continental development programme aims at enhancing the youth as key actors in Africa’s development and enhancing their participation in policy development towards the African Union’s Agenda 2063, “The Africa we want.”

Opening the exercise on Tuesday, Cyriaque Harelimana, the Minister of State in charge of Socio-Economic Development, said the exercise was organised to prepare the youth volunteers before they are deployed to various countries for voluntary service.

“Africans will have the continent they want only if the youth are engaged enough. Youth are key actors to enable the continent to achieve sustainable development. Whatever we can do or plan without youth engagement, there will not be any success. One of the objectives of the African Union is to support the youth,” Harelimana said.

He added that the exercise enables participants to share skills, knowledge, and creativity, and discuss the main challenging issues that hinder the progress of the continent.

The minister expects that lectures delivered during the exercise will help participants to be more active during their service so that their contribution impacts the welfare of the people.

Daniel Adugna, African Union Youth Volunteers programme Coordinator, said that the youth are the major ambassadors of the continent and their contribution is paramount.

“During the exercise the youths will train in Pan-African related subjects, and youth empowerment and development among other subjects. We have seen the fruits of previous editions and the journey continues,” he said.

Volunteers speak

Sphesihie Ntumalo, from South Africa, said the programme empowers the youth to take part in addressing political and economic issues the continent is facing, adding that since the youth are social change agents they need to create more connections for further engagements.

“You cannot talk about sustainable development or implementation of goals without including the youth. There is a challenge of a limited contribution of African youth in the battle to develop the continent. Sharing experience and discussing possible solutions to some difficult issues will significantly impact Africa’s development,” said Brian Matuso from Zimbabwe.

The New Times