Our priority themes
The topic of youth is growing in importance in African policies and is a key focus of The Youth Cafe and it’s partners. We believe that investing in youth is a precondition for accelerated inclusive growth and sustainable development. In accordance with our aspiration to involve young people actively in political processes affecting their livelihoods and future prospects, we ensure a strengthened and meaningful inclusion of Youth along the following priority themes:
Remittances are a focus of The Youth Cafe regarding international cooperation in Africa, helping to reduce poverty and generate domestic resources. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10 aims to reduce the transaction costs of migrant remittances to under 3% and eliminate corridors with costs above 5%. Despite recent progress, costs stagnate around 7% with strong disparity between corridors. This disproportionately affects young people, who are more likely to be 'undocumented', 'unbanked', and poor. And yet youth are at the forefront in the use of new technologies like mobile money. In 2014, the AU established the African Institute for Remittances (AIR) with support from the EU. It provides statistical data (SendMoneyAfrica comparison database) and promotes change in legal and regulatory frameworks. However, further awareness and transparency about remittance fees and standards is needed, as well as more user-friendly applications and capacity support to innovative solutions from both regions.
Culture, Arts & Sports (CAS) can address major global challenges – such as conflict prevention and resolution, social integration, prevention of violent extremism, and protection of cultural heritage. CAS is also a key vector for collaboration between The Youth Cafe and partners, building bridges, as outlined in the AU Abidjan Summit Declaration (2017). CAS can contribute to socio-economic stability, sustainable development and economic growth, through cultural entrepreneurship; the culture and creative arts industry is indeed considered to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy, with an estimated growth rate of 7% of the global GDP. The 2007 Africa Strategy (JAES) proposes a stronger cultural cooperation. A budget of EUR 40 million was allocated under the European Development Fund to support the contribution of cultural industries to the socio-economic development of ACP countries. However, the sector's potential deserves to be further harnessed, through visible initiatives that can also help connect young people to opportunities (financing, networks, and necessary skills to build their careers).
Access to quality education and the opportunity to develop skills and competencies is vital to prepare youth for the future. An investment in their human capital is an investment in the socio-economic future of our societies. The Youth Cafe aspire to provide high quality education and training systems, that are efficient and that facilitate young people’s access and integration. However, youth on the continent face high unemployment rates and difficulties transitioning into the world of work. In light of the UNESCO 2030 goals, SDG 4 and international commitments, relevant stakeholders must be assisted in providing quality education to equip youth with skills and competencies to take on future challenges and opportunities in society: “21st century skills”. Innovative schooling systems, under different forms, have been shown to improve student success, active citizenship and transversal skills, needed for the future job market. There are good examples of multi-stakeholder collaborations in creating innovative learning environments (e.g. ESTEM, VET and Global Education). Coordination and dissemination of these efforts in the region is necessary.
Ensuring “a transparent, democratic and accountable environment” is a strategic objective of The Youth Cafe worp, which contributes “to reducing fragility, fostering political stability and effective governance, and enabling sustainable and inclusive development and growth”. The AU has developed the African Governance Architecture. The Youth Cafe has invested significantly in developing skills to be used in governance-enabling activities. Accountability initiatives already exist, from the international level (including the International Aid Transparency Initiative), to the local (with social auditing and budget reviews). However, collaboration among stakeholders can be further enhanced. The under-representation of youth in governance, notably, is a clear challenge which wide-spread information and youth-attractive digital tools can help address. The large proportion of youth in the Africa presents an opportunity for further action in transparency and accountability.
Soil degradation and unsustainable land/water management are key causes and impacts of climate change in Africa. The Great Green Wall initiative, launched in 2007, is the AU's flagship initiative to slow the expansion of the Sahara Desert, address land degradation, boost food security, and to support transformational resilience of communities to adapt to climate change. However, coordination between the various projects composing the Great Green Wall should be further improved. A coherent mapping can help further develop the GGW, while enhanced support for agroforestry can represent additional incentives for youth to stay in rural areas and engage in activities promoting the sustainable use of natural resources. Agroforestry has proven suitable to mitigate the consequences of climate change and can provide livelihood opportunities for youth in the region.
A decade of violence by Boko Haram has triggered a humanitarian crisis in the least developed parts of the four countries of the Lake Chad Basin, displacing more than 2.5 million people, hindering economic activities, and restricting access to basic services. To bring stability to the region, there has been a significant support to humanitarian and development actors in recent years, as well as to the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF). Between 2014 and 2017, the EU alone has invested over EUR 700 million. Despite these interventions, and even in secured areas, progress is still scarce; the lack of coordination of stabilisation activities leads to gaps between political intentions and realities on the ground, on which accurate information is lacking. The role of young people is key to stabilisation, as recognized by the UNSCR 2250 which calls for the effective participation of young people in peacebuilding efforts in fragile areas. The role of youth is further highlighted in the Stabilisation Strategy adopted by Member States of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in August 2018 and endorsed by the AU Peace & Security Council in December 2018. The Stabilisation Strategy offers a renewed impetus for a "new way of working" focusing on bridging the gap between political will, financing and reality of progress on the ground.
Sub-Saharan Africa will need to create 18 million new jobs a year by 2035, while currently only 3 million are annually created. This issue is a crucial priority for the The Youth Cafe. In this endeavour of job creation, young people are uniquely positioned to stimulate innovation and create social capital, especially in key sectors such as agribusiness and renewable energy. Youth must be empowered to participate in shaping a shared future and economy, working closely in partnership withagribusiness and renewable energy. There are gaps in support services for young entrepreneurs, in knowledge of and access to current flagship initiatives.