ECOWAS reiterates commitment to youth empowerment

Accra� The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday reiterated its commitment to youth empowerment in the sub-region.

Madam HajiyaRahemaatMomodu, the Head, Drug Control and Civil Society, ECOWAS Commission, hailed the dynamic contributions of the youth to the sub-region’s socio-economic development.

Given their numbers (about 60 per cent of the population), their vibrancy, their innovative and entrepreneurial potential, as well as their growing political awareness, the youth can no longer be considered leaders of tomorrow; they are leaders of today, she said.

Madam Momodu stated this at the opening of a two-day ECOWAS youth engagement workshop in Accra, which is on the theme; Member States Engagement with Youth on Conflict Transformation in West Africa.

Thirty-five participants from member states with the exception of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde are attending.

The workshop follows key recommendations from the one on Youth Engagement towards sustainable Peace and Security in West Africa, held in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, in September 2017.

Madam Momodu expressed concern about the frequency at which young people were being used by unscrupulous politicians, terrorists and criminal networks for destabilisation purposes.

She said it would be a dereliction of responsibility of the highest order for ECOWAS Member States not to prioritise policies, programmes and support initiatives aimed at empowering the youth to say no to those criminal networks.

She said the youth must be encouraged to channel their youthful dynamism into constructive ventures that propelled development, enhanced national cohesion and strengthened society’s resilience against conflict and stability.

Madam Momodu said against that background, the objective must be to facilitate a vibrant interactive, inter and intra-generational dialogue between member states, the youth and other relevant stakeholders.

Every country in West Africa has developed a plethora of programmes and initiatives aimed at protecting and developing children as well as empowering young women and men, she said.

Ghana, for instance, had the National Service Scheme and the Nation Builders Corps, while Nigeria had the National Youth Corps, she said.

She said many other countries had adopted development programmes that targeted the vulnerable in their societies.

To address the youth unemployment situation, Madam Momodu said in rural areas, there was the need for governments to make agriculture and craft dignified professions through innovation and value addition to attract the youth.

She appealed to member states to encourage the private sector to support youth attachment programmes and entrepreneurship through incentives such as tax breaks.

Mr Constant C. Gnacadja, the Programme Officer on Conflict Prevention, Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, ECOWAS, said youth issues were very important for West Africa’s peace and stability.

The Accra workshop aims to provide a platform for the interactive exchanges between representatives of member states and the youth on youth empowerment initiatives, achievements and weaknesses, among other issues.

Source: Ghana News Agency