“We are here, we are ready! give us a chance to help improve Africa for the betterment of both current and future generations to come.”
These were the stirring words of a member of the new ECA Young Economist Network (YEN) programme run by the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), South African economics masters student Zenzele Mwansa Pahla.
Phala said she wanted to share her view of the kind of Africa young people envisioned.
“Despite rising growth rates enabling some progress in poverty reduction, infrastructure development, health and education outcomes, our ability to mobilise domestic resources remained limited.
“Not only has the pandemic reversed any progress we had made, but it has also exacerbated the challenges that Africa continues to face. Therefore, more than just recovery, the youth in Africa are calling for a change to the status quo.”
We envision an Africa where our parents no longer have to rely on traditional fuel for cooking and have access to modern, reliable, and sustainable energy; an Africa that prioritises the health and well-being of her people by improving access and affordability to healthcare and developing skilled African health professionals so that we can become leaders in medical advancements for the diseases that affect our continent.
“We see an Africa where our capabilities are nurtured through equitable access to quality education up to tertiary level for all of us, where our skills are harnessed to support innovation in technology, climate change and financial instruments.
“We see an integrated Africa with developed capital markets along with supportive physical and technological infrastructure.
“We want to see an Africa that values the capabilities of women and girls and recognises the unpaid care burden that restricts our opportunities to pursue productive learning and employment.
“To achieve this vision, it is paramount for governments and policymakers across the continent to rely on locally produced knowledge by investing in Africa’s greatest asset – the youth.”
The YEN brings together more than 800 young African economists across 29 African countries and 72 universities. It aims to harness Africa’s youth by training and empowering a new generation of highly skilled economists in macroeconomic research and modelling.
The group is already working on a project to develop macroeconomic models to simulate double digit annual growth to enable us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. But, she said, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Africa needs groups working on solving many other of its problems.