African Union must act decisively to ensure development for African youth

Published: 26th June 2011

Oxfam urges the AU to make youth development a priority for decades ahead

As the forum of Foreign Affairs ministers starts today at the African Union Summit in Malabo, Oxfam called on ministers to ensure the main theme of this summit, “Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development,” is not forgotten.

“The ongoing conflicts in Libya, Sudan and elsewhere need urgent attention from the AU. But ministers must not be distracted from also tackling the challenges and issues facing African youth,” said Desire Assogbavi, Oxfam representative to the AU.

Three out of five young Africans are unemployed and three quarters live below the poverty line on just one dollar a day. If their economic needs are not met, this can fuel political dissatisfaction – such as the revolutions which started in North Africa and could potentially spread in sub-Saharan Africa – or drag young people away from politics, Oxfam said.

“Some countries are experiencing an economic revival with strong growth. But the wealth is not equally distributed around to everyone, to improve their living standards and give them hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday,” said Mr Yohanes Mezgebe, Vice President of the Pan Africa Youth Union.

The international agency Oxfam and its partners present in Malabo, at the 17th Annual Summit of the African Union, are calling on the AU to set up clear deadlines for all member states to implement the Youth Charter, which listed many engaging decisions taken since 2006 by all 53 members. This charter highlights the necessity to promote actively youth participation in all aspects of development.

The Pan African Youth Union calls on the AU Commission to:

  • Allocate adequate resources for Plan of Actions for the African Youth Decade;
  • Facilitate and create mechanisms for diaspora youth to contribute to development;
  • Develop strategies for Public-Private partnership in mobilizing resources for youth;
  • Combat inequalities and focus on marginalized youth;
  • Fight human trafficking and exploitation or refugees and IDPs;
  • Prioritize quality and innovative education for all;
  • Launch an African youth decade starting now.

Oxfam and its partners urged African ministers, heads of states, and donors, to take this opportunity to ensure these recommendations are implemented.

“70% of the African population is under 35 years old. This is a huge opportunity if appropriate investment and decisions are taken now,” added Mezgebe.

According to Desire Assogbavi, “Oxfam is committed to advocate and campaign for the young African generation and their social well-being.”

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Oxfam's work with youth

70% of the African population is under 35 years old. This is a huge opportunity if appropriate investment and decisions are taken now.
Yohanes Mezgebe
Vice President of the Pan Africa Youth Union

Notes to editors

Pan African Youth Union – The organization based in Algiers was formed in Conakry, the capital of the Republic of Guinea, on 26 April 1962, encouraged by African Heads of State and Government, who wanted to create a platform to rally African youth behind the cause of the liberation. The Organization’s structure consists of a Congress, Executive Committee, Secretariat, Regional Bodies and Specialsied Committees, which are elected once every four years, out of the 53 African member countries on the continent.

Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working together in 98 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.

Contact information

Charles Bambara –

  • Tel. Equatorial Guinea: +240 222 047 179
  • Tel. Senegal Roaming: +221 77 639 4178
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