Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 10, 2020 (ECA) – Bad governance, the absence of women at decision-making tables and youth unemployment are some of the challenges that continue to blight Africa’s quest for total peace, social cohesion and sustainable development.
This was said by Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), at a high level discussion on sustaining peace and economic security that was convened by Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on the margins of the African Union summit Monday.
“Bad governance lies at the centre of Africa's failure to sustain peace. When conflicts persist, girls drop out of school and we lose Africa’s brain trust. Women and girls must not be used as or for conflict,” said the ECA Chief.
Currently there are 21 armed conflicts raging on the continent.
“We need to ensure that women are included in critical decision-making processes if we are to reduce conflict, sustain peace, and deliver a prosperous Africa,” said Ms. Songwe.
“Investing in women and ensuring they have a seat at the decision-making table is crucial for peace, social cohesion and sustainable development on the African continent.”
She said the over 13 million of Africa’s youth who have no employment were a time bomb that requires the continent’s leaders to act fast.
“Our leaders need to invest in education, our business environments, good governance and infrastructure,” added Ms. Songwe.
For his part, Mr. Trudeau said; “In this time of change, time of transformation of the global economy, conflict and climate challenges, people worry that the system has no place for them. We have populism in some places... attractiveness of extremism and terrorism in far too many youth.”
“It’s time for us to pull together. To understand that an essential part of building peace isn’t just the absence of conflict, it’s the creation of opportunities; it is working with local governments to see the need for the young people to have jobs, become entrepreneurs; investments that can unlock economic opportunities as an essential part of the path forward.”
He called for home-grown solutions in countries that are in conflict. Imposed solutions, he said, do not work.
“We need to work better together, driving investors and creating economic opportunities and prosperity that is broadly shared, with a real and fair chance to succeed for all of us,” said Mr. Trudeau.
Burkina Faso President, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, also attended the meeting. He talked about conflicts in his country and the Sahel region in general and the need for more international support to combat jihadist groups and extremism.
For his part, Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank Group, said the greatest threat to Africa’s peace was not terrorism but youth unemployment.
“Terrorists recruit young people. The high level of youth unemployment in Africa is the best news for terrorists to recruit discouraged and underemployed youth. We cannot sustain peace and economic security with hundreds of millions of unemployed youth,” he said.
UN General Assembly President, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, hailed the meeting saying there was need to define and refine the best ways through which to secure and sustain peace and economic security on the continent.
Peace, he said, was key to Africa’s sustainable development, adding no stone should be left unturned in efforts to address conflicts and promote peace.
Toronto Raptors President, Nigerian-born Masai Ujiri, stressed the importance of sports to keep Africa's youth away from conflict.
“The continent needs to pay special attention to youth development and sport. It brings people together and builds passion and camaraderie that takes them away from conflict. I know how basketball lifted me up and I have seen the joy it gives,” Mr. Ujiri told the meeting.
Canada is the current chair of the UN Peace Building Commission.
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