TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, Nov 30 – Equity Bank Chairman Peter Munga has called for a Marshall Plan targeting young people in Africa if the war against poverty in the continent is to be won.
Mr Munga said the Marshall Plan for African Youth should be driven by the private sector partnering with governments to devote more resources towards youth oriented programmes.
“The greatest challenge facing Africa is ensuring that young people are equipped with the right skills and absorbed into gainful employment to enable them earn a decent and honest living,” he told participants from the Youth Forum during the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago.
World leaders, he added should borrow from the Kenya’s Youth Enterprise Fund Programme and the Kazi Kwa Vijana (Work for the Youth) initiative which he said had provided a model case of a Youth Marshall Plan by providing employment opportunities for many young people.
In his keynote address at the Forum Mr Munga asked Commonwealth governments to build structures aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the transmission and utilization of resources set aside for young people.
He said governments in Africa could only ignore the youth population at their own peril.
”I am a firm believer that the best investment the world can make is in the youth. Fundamentally, investing in the youth is securing future generations thus creating a sustainable world. Our Founding Fathers in Africa considered the youth as a critical resource, therefore I challenge and encourage them to be excited about the opportunity for service to mankind,” Mr Munga said.
At the same time, he asked young people in the continent to do away with the dependency syndrome and the culture of handouts to achieve results, saying Kenya should be commended for shifting attention to labour-intensive infrastructural projects such as roads, dams and other public utilities which create thousands of jobs particularly in the urban areas.
He urged them to embrace ICT and apply it to development adding that the full potential of merging technology was yet to be exploited to create jobs in the continent.
The recommendations from the Youth Forum were presented to the Commonwealth Heads of Government at the conference.
The Commonwealth Youth Forum at the CHOGM conference in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago brought together young people from the Commonwealth nations to discuss common issues affecting them.
The main conference was attended by heads of states from the 53 commonwealth member countries, including Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki.