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#AUBanjulPlus10: Taking stock and scaling up efforts ten years after the African Youth Charter

In July 2006, African Union Heads of States and Governments adopted the African Youth Charter, during the 7th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Banjul, The Gambia. The African Youth Charter (AYC) is the first legal and political framework focused on the development and growth of African youth on the continent and in the diaspora.

Ten years after the adoption of the charter, more than 400 youth from across Africa and the diaspora are gathered in Banjul to take stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Charter in their various countries, and the continent as a whole. The Charter’s vision is to ensure youth are highly involved in all development processes at national, regional, continental and international levels.

From 21st to 25th May, the youth delegates have the unique opportunity to engage their governments through their respective youth ministers and other dignitaries. A measure of the progress made will open an avenue to re-strategize and address the challenges faced in the implementation of the Charter. Putting young people at the forefront of these conversations is crucial to achieving the targets set for the realization of Agenda 2063.

The Executive Director of UNFPA, Babatunde Osotimehin and other personalities, are expected to join delegates at the meeting, accompanied by several officials from UNFPA and development partners at the global, national and regional levels. A series of side events and formal sessions have been lined up for the duration of the meeting; targeting young people and providing platforms for them to express their perspectives and expectations. They shall engage on the best means of leveraging the potential of young people, in line with the imperative of harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend.

In Africa today, about 65% of the total population is below the age of 35 years, and over 35% are between the ages of 15 and 35 years. This makes Africa the most youthful continent, thereby establishing the window of opportunity to harness the demographic advantage through the empowerment and active participation of youth. This is the way forward to ensure an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa in line with the visions for Africa 2063, which can only be built by today’s youth.

The African continent continues to face a series of challenges as far as the growth and development of its youth are concerned. Banjul+10 is an opportunity to advance the agenda of youth empowerment and development in all member states by ensuring mutual accountability to the obligations of African Youth Charter, and reaffirming commitments in the Decade of Youth 2009 – 2018 and its Plan of Action.

The significance of celebrating the Charter’s 10th anniversary in Banjul is not just as a result of The Gambia being its birthplace, but also because the country has played a key and proactive role as one of the first five countries to ratify the Charter.

Following the ongoing youth summit and a high-level political forum, the Africa Youth Awards will also be staged to recognize and celebrate the achievements of outstanding African youth across all fields of human endeavor.

The outcomes of the Banjul+ 10 convening will strengthen and add value to the second African Union Specialised Committee meeting of Youth Ministers, as well as serve as a roadmap for the 2017 ‘African Year for Harnessing Demographic Dividends for accelerated Youth Empowerment’.