Kenya Hosts the 59th African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) Conference in Nairobi
The youth in Africa present an opportunity for them to drive the economy if embodied with the right skill sets and have access to gainful employment opportunities. This was the message that reverberated the AERC 59th December, 2023 Biannual Plenary Session that was held from 26th November, to 2nd December, 2023 at a Nairobi Hotel.
‘Africa’s future is in the hands of the youth,’ dominated the discussions.
Speaking while delivering the opening remarks at the Conference, the Economic Planning Principal Secretary James Muhati reiterated the Government commitment in empowering the youth through education, developing employable skills, creation jobs and through other various initiatives.
He cited the high levels of youth population in Kenya with the Africa Union estimating those aged between 15 to 35 years escalating to being over 400 million. He mentioned that the Government was implementing various policy interventions that are aimed at addressing the challenges posed by population growth, unemployment and migration, while leveraging the education and skills of the youth in Kenya.
“Kenya alone is projected to have a population of 63.9 million, in 2030, of these, 22.3 million (35%) will be youths aged 15-34 years.” PS Muhati mentioned.
He added that besides aligning the policies on youth development to the international standards, several programmes are being implemented by the government to foster youth participation in the Country’s Economy. They include human development through education system reform, tapping the demographic dividend through NYS, enhancing financial inclusion through Youth Enterprise Development Fund and skilling the youth through the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities (KYEOP and TVETS. He also pointed out that the government is working in partnership with the private sector and other development partners to ensure more youth are utilizing their potential for sustainable development and that the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) and the Fourth Medium Term Plan (MTP IV 2023-2027) Development plans have prioritized the human capital development.
The high-level event themed; “Youth, Demographic Dividend, Migration, and Economic Opportunities in African Economies,” brought together representatives from the African Development Bank, top policy makers, Academicians, Executives from Multilateral Organizations, Development Partners, Think Tanks and Researchers among others.
The forum deliberated on how the African Continent could explore and expand economic opportunities for the African youth, women and the whole population through leveraging on technology in the implementation of the African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and improving the quality of education in an inclusive growth.
The Conference was also addressed by Dr. Anthony Simpasa, a representative from the African Development Bank (AFDB), who spoke on unlocking Africa’s Demographic dividend and leveraging migration as an opportunity for development in Africa.
Dr. Simpasa added that Africa’s demographic growth was undoubtedly a major asset for the continent and that the recent demographic dynamics complete with the global geopolitical balances were in favour of Africa.
“Africa is richly endowed with natural capital that include land, oil and gas, traditional and critical minerals and ecosystems.” he said.
He called for expansion of Africa’s voice in the global space especially in the new world financial order. He urged the African governments to harness the population growth through technological progress, the huge markets and exploit new ideas. On migration, the African Diaspora populace was applauded for the remittances and other financial solutions they have provided to the continent beside mentorship and being role-models for the other youth.
During the plenary sessions, states were encouraged to progressively address issues of; Rapid population growth, Climate Change, Inequality Gap and Brain Drain circulation among others which continue to pose challenges to the accelerated growth of the Continent.