Dar es Salaam – Over 150 young and emerging leaders from across Africa participated in the African Youth Dialogue, a forum to deliberate on Africa’s development and the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the continent.

The dialogue, which took place at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Center in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, 6th April, 2017 was launched by the Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Women and Children Hon. Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla (MP) on behalf of the Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania H.E Samia Suluhu Hassan.

“Usually, when youth are gathered to discuss development issues facing the continent, they are discussed in the context of the youth as a burden or a blessing. The youth are sometimes framed as a problem, or indeed the problem, that we as a continent must somehow solve together,” said Hon. Dr. Kigwangalla.

He continued, “Today, however, this will not be the case. Today, the youth are an equal and active stakeholder within Africa’s development question…this is an opportunity for youth to share their experiences and their solutions to the development challenges and opportunities that youth are experiencing, and to build networks to implement sustainable solutions.”

The dialogue, which consisted of young leaders between the ages of 18 – 35 was structured around social, economic, environmental and governance pillars. The discussions centered on how the Continent’s youth perceive Africa’s development aspirations, and how these overlap with the SDGs – where there are similarities, and where there are differences.

The event highlighted how youth can enhance, support, and lead sustainable solutions to the development challenges faced on the continent. Participants were picked from different sectors who have been active in promoting the development agenda in their respective countries and Africa at large.

In her keynote address, the President of the Pan-African Youth Union, Ms. Francine Muyumba, said that the future of the continent depended on African youth, and their willingness to come together in addressing the challenges facing the continent.

“As young people, we all have a significant role to play to make the SDGs a success in Africa. We need to rally together our ideas and work hand in hand with our governments to bring about positive change to our respective countries and to Africa as a whole,” she said, “our achievements will therefore pave the way for the better implementation of Agenda 2063 of the African Union.”

The  Minister for Empowerment, Adults, Youth, Women and Children of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. Hon. Maudline Castico (MP), who officially closed the dialogue, motivated the youth to stay connected with each other and to keep pursuing their leadership goals until they achieve them.

“With love, faith and patience, you can achieve your leadership goals,” she said.

Hon. Castico also highlighted that, “youth are key partners in Africa’s development. Young people must be given opportunities to participate as respective partners in decision making and action at all levels, grassroots and so on.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of UONGOZI Institute, Prof. Joseph Semboja said that the youth have critical roles and responsibilities in implementing the SDGs and realising the type of development we want for our continent.

To tackle the challenges facing Africa, Prof. Semboja said in his remarks, “We need an agenda that says I want to be an African. The problem is that we do not see our identity as an issue. We need a common identity.”

The dialogue brought together young leaders from 29 different countries, including Benin, South Africa, South Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Mauritius, Madagascar, Liberia, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Egypt, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Namibia, Sudan, Swaziland, Algeria, Senegal, Morocco, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania as the host.