Cameroon’s Head of State, Paul Biya, arrived in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire,on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, with a huge delegation for the 5th AU-EU Summit which opened today, November 29, 2017, in the Ivorian capital. The Cameroonian president who hardly attends international events organized on the continent was received by his Ivorian counterpart, Alassane Ouattara, who is expected to step down from office in 2020. The Summit of Heads of States and Governments traditionally takes place every three years alternately in Africa and Europe with the aim of taking stock of the progress made in the implementation of commitments and providing political guidance for further work.
The Summit is being held on the theme: “Investing in youth for a sustainable future,” and is being attended by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, the President of the African Union and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
The event holds against the backdrop of Africans being sold in Libya as slaves. Images of Africans being sold as livestock in Libyan cities have shocked the world, with many experts blaming African leaders for not doing enough to create an enabling environment for their citizens. They blame this unfortunate event on corruption and poor governance which have become the hallmarks of African countries.
The issue of security will also be on the table, as the continent is facing a huge security challenge. Libya is today a magnet for many jihadists groups following the killing of Qaddafi, Somalia is yet to be back on its feet, Boko Haram is making its presence felt in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, while the Malian situation is far from being addressed. The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon will also be discussed when Mr. Biya meets his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, as French business interests in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are under threat.
Though the continent has made some impressive strides towards modern-day democracy, there is still a long way to go for some countries such as Cameroon where Mr. Biya has been presiding over the country’s destiny for thirty-five years, with no impressive economic and political outcomes; a situation that has resulted in unemployment and massive exodus of the country’s youths to other parts of the world.
The two-day event in Abidjan is also being attended by heads of multilateral institutions such as the African Development Bank whose president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has launched a Youth Advisory Group.
The Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative aims to create 25 million jobs and benefit 50 million youth over the next 10 years by equipping them with the right skills to get decent and meaningful jobs. It is currently the largest effort for youth employment in Africa today.
The advisory group, inaugurated on the sidelines of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum in Abidjan on Monday, November 27, will work with the Bank to create jobs for Africa’s youth.
“This is a huge opportunity for Africa. If we fix the youth unemployment challenge, Africa will gain 10-20% annual growth. That means Africa’s GDP will grow by $500 billion per year for the next 30 years. Africa’s per capita income will rise by 55% every year to the year 2050,” Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said at the inauguration of the Group.
Dr. Adesina, who identified Africa’s greatest asset as its youth, observed that out of the 13 million youths that enter the labour market each year, only 3 million (about 33% of African youth) are in wage employment, while the rest are underemployed or in vulnerable employment. The annual gap of more than 8 million jobs is going to worsen, with the number of youth expected to double to more than 800 million in the next decades.
The AU-EU Summit will end on Thursday with resolutions and recommendations on the way forward on how both continents can work together to create opportunities for African youths.
By Kingsley Betek in Abidjan