Africa’s Youth Voices Network fosters young people’s role in leadership, ensuring young Africans have a voice in informing policymaking.

Africa’s Youth Voices Network fosters young people’s role in leadership, ensuring young Africans have a voice in informing policymaking.

New York, 25 April 2024 – The United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) convened the launch event of the Africa’s Youth Voices Network (AYV) on 15 April 2024. Anchored in the theme “Building Tomorrow’s Leaders Today: Fostering Youth’s Ownership for Africa’s Future-Ready Leadership,” this occasion signaled a pivotal stride in integrating the voices and aspirations of African youth into OSAA’s strategic frameworks. 

In a landscape marked by dynamic socio-economic shifts, fostering youth leadership emerges as a paramount imperative. Under-Secretary-General and United Nations Special Adviser on Africa, Ms. Cristina Duarte, articulated this imperative, stating, “Africa’s burgeoning youth population embodies the continent’s reservoir of untapped potential. Their ownership of Africa’s future leadership is not merely aspirational but essential for sustainable development.” 

The event convened a diverse array of stakeholders, including esteemed ministers and youth representatives, amplifying the discourse on youth-centric development paradigms. Ministerial insights underscored the imperatives of inclusive governance structures, responsive policymaking, and robust investment frameworks tailored to harness the demographic dividend. 

Drawing from his personal experiences, H.E Max Andonirina Fontaine, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Madagascar, advocated for youth inclusivity in environmental stewardship, citing youth-led initiatives as catalysts for sustainable development.  

H.E Emma Theofelus, Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology of Namibia, advocated for proactive measures to bridge the representation gap, urging equitable access to decision-making platforms for young leaders. She emphasized the need for representative voices and leadership opportunities for young people: “Young people like me are ready to lead. Africa is not treated equally in continental representation; we need representative voices.” 

H.E Devika Vidot, Minister of Investment, Entrepreneurship, and Industry of the Seychelles, highlighted the resilience and creativity of African entrepreneurs: “Entrepreneurship is about finding innovative solutions to challenges and overcoming hurdles. As proud Africans, we are born survivors.” She extolled the entrepreneurial spirit of African youth, urging holistic support mechanisms to incubate and scale youth-led enterprises. She reinforced the centrality of leadership and entrepreneurship in fostering Africa’s socio-economic resilience amidst evolving global dynamics. 

The event also included a panel discussion, featuring dynamic exchanges between youth representatives and policymakers. Mr. Wiisichong Ahmed, Pan-African Youth Union Secretary General underscored the imperative for equitable financial architectures, advocating for systemic reforms to redress Africa’s access to global capital markets. Ahmed elucidated, highlighting the current financial system’s bias against Africa: “The continent that processes the most natural resources enters the global financial market but cannot borrow.” He emphasized the urgency for a fairer global financial system and advocated for the United Nations’ pivotal role in addressing issues of inequality and exclusion within it. 

Ms. Rakiya Abby-Farrah, advocated for integrated innovation curricula to empower youth with the requisite skills for social impact, pathways for nurturing youth innovation ecosystems, mainstreaming entrepreneurship education, and bolstering digital infrastructure to catalyze youth-led solutions for sustainable development.  Rakiya called for sustained investments in human capital development, “and health is a great way to start in Africa” she said.  

For his part, Mr. Kenneth Kungania championed the amplification of youth voices through network-based empowerment strategies. Kungania emphasized the importance of amplifying youth voices and utilizing networks to empower young entrepreneurs. He asserted, “The best way right now is to amplify all voices, including those in the diaspora.” He said it’s imperative that young people in the diaspora and on the continent collaborate and create pathways for development for themselves.  

On harnessing the transformative potential of digital platforms, Ms. Yasmina Benslimane underscored the role of technology in galvanizing youth mobilization for social change, accentuating the power of digital connectivity in fostering inclusive development pathways. She also emphasized the importance of ensuring gender-responsive policies. Representatives from Morocco and Sierra Leone echoed calls for sustained investments in human capital development, underpinned by gender-responsive frameworks. 

Assistant Secretary General on Youth, Felipe Paullier reiterated the imperative of sustained collaboration and youth-centered approaches in navigating the complexities of the 21st-century development landscape. As the custodians of tomorrow’s prosperity, African youth stand poised to chart a course towards inclusive, resilient, and sustainable futures. Felipe Paullier, concluding the event, emphasized the importance of continued collaboration and placing young people at the center of discussions: “We live in a more global world than ever with the largest young generation ever. Put young people at the center of the discussion.” 

Looking ahead, the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, along with UN partners, will be collaborating with the youth network to ensure inclusion of African Youth Voices in the multilateral system agenda, and governance mechanisms for policymaking.  



Recognizing the crucial role of African youth in driving sustainable development, the Africa’s Youth Voices Network aims to amplify young Africans’ voices in global policymaking, aligning with the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. Through AYV, young professionals, academics, creatives, and civil society members will collaborate on issues vital to Africa’s development. The network will lead analysis, advocacy, and advisory efforts on peace, security, development, and human rights, focusing on youth perspectives. By uniting diverse voices, AYV seeks to reshape Africa’s development narrative and give youth a voice to influence policymaking at regional and global levels. 

Social Media: 

UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa: FacebookLinkedInXYouTube 


Keolebogile Lebo Diswai (Ms.) Public Information Officer, OSAA [email protected]  

Rado Ratovonarivo (Mr.)Senior Programme Management Officer, OSAA [email protected]  

Read More