200 young leaders exchange ideas and design new initiatives for EAC integration
75% of the population in East Africa will be below the age of 30 by 2030, so it is crucial to include the youth in the integration process and give young peoples’ ideas room to flourish and grow. Leadership capacity is key for a people-centred integration. Young people have to be empowered today to become leaders of tomorrow. This is exactly the vision of the YOULEAD Summit 2018, which took place in Arusha, Tanzania from 19 to 23 November 2018.
Before starting with official welcome notes and keynote speeches of guests, each of the about 200 young people introduced themselves, cheered by their fellow participants. Some used this occasion to raise awareness for topics they especially care about, such as proper usage and perception of social media, gender equality and honest participation and inclusion of young people. Young leaders urged politicians to recognize that actions speak louder than words. After the youth having set the tone, Mr Ezra Mbogori, Executive Director of the MS Training Center for Development Cooperation, welcomed all participants to the venue. He said that listening to the six national anthems and the EAC anthem and the joint applause had truly moved him and as it showed the mutual respect. Mr Jerry Muro, District Commissioner of Arumeru District, welcomed everyone from the six EAC Partner States to Tanzania on behalf of H.E. Dr. John Joseph Magufuli. He presented his speech in English and Swahili to emphasize the aspiration of Swahili as the major EAC language in the future.
Then Youth Ambassadors summarised the different perspectives and ideas developed atthe national youth leadership summits that had taken place in the Partner States ahead of the summit. . Young people were concerned that the regional integration process might not do enough to enable young and small businesses to thrive. They demanded more political support for their grass-root projects aiming at including more young women, a holistic development approach and youth representation in political governance. “There is no integration without the people, all East African citizens”, as one participant put it.
The Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa (IIDEA) was invited to actively participate at the Summit. Four IIDEA Partners shared their experiences of youth in trade, enterprise and employment in the EAC. Participants were eager to learn from their successful journeys. Joel Ramadhan Nkembanyi, Programmes Manager, Nyakitonto Youth For Development Tanzania (NYDT), invited five male and five female entrepreneurs from each EAC member state to join his youth agri-business app to integrate more young people into agricultural trading in the EAC.
Edgar Mwampinge, a young lawyer freshly graduated from law school and coordinator of CV people Africa, explained how WORKNASI helps young entrepreneurs to share work space for freelancing business activities in different EAC countries.