Under the theme “Digital Access & the Future of Work”, the five-day Summit is organized by YouLead Africa and supported by the International Trade Centre (ITC), East African Community (EAC), East Africa Business Council (EABC), action aid Denmark, the Independent Continental Youth Advisory Council on the AfCFTA, and others. The Summit brings together young leaders from across the African continent to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and create change.
The second day of the YouLead Summit hosted the African Under 40 Business Leaders Forum. During the Forum, speakers highlighted the role of the AfCFTA for economic development in Africa, and especially for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises whose trade opportunities would be increased once the agreement was fully implemented.
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre said: “Africa’s well known young demographic dividend is the continent’s biggest resource – a treasure chest of innovative solutions to harnessing the full potential of the AfCFTA. It is in youths’ hands to generate ideas and solutions on how to deliver on the trade and industrialization aspirations contained in the AU Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want.”
On behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Mie Vedel Jorgensen added: “To ensure the inclusive and sustainable advancement of the AfCFTA, youth must be involved in local and national economic development committees. A particular focus needs to be placed on the sectors where youth are driving impact and growth, such as the creative industries.”
ITC’s Youth Entrepreneur (YE!) Advisor to Cameroon, Mechi Amaah, also Founder of Black and Natural Cosmetics, highlighted her learnings from the Ye! Bootcamp that took place on the sidelines of the YouLead Summit. She highlighted the critical role that young people can play to sensitize their peers on the AfCFTA and stressed the urgent need to raise awareness, particularly in rural areas and among marginalized communities.
Since 2017, the YouLead Summit is convened annually by the East African Community, MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation through their youth engagement initiatives. This year’s edition also included the launch of the East African Youth Manifesto and a presentation of the EAC Youth Leadership Fellowship.