June 16, 2024

West African youth demand innovation hubs, digital entrepreneurship


Young leaders from across West Africa have called for the creation of innovation hubs, increased investment in digital entrepreneurship, and the use of technology to enhance regional security.

These demands were made during the Youth Voices for Change Summit 2024, held on June 6 in Accra, Ghana.

The summit concluded with a 40-point statement from the youth, urging ECOWAS Member States to develop innovation centers and integrate digital technology education into school curricula. This, they believe, will equip young people to meet the challenges of the 21st century effectively.

The youth emphasized the need for national governments and the ECOWAS Commission to adopt transformative information and communication technologies (ICT) that can drive job creation in sectors such as agriculture, security, and telecommunications. They also pledged to use social media and media platforms prudently to create jobs and promote awareness campaigns.

In addition to these technological advancements, the youth committed to fighting cybercrime, terrorism, and youth marginalization. They called for mentorship programs to inspire and equip young people for modern jobs and for funding start-ups to foster self-realization.

The youth also expressed their desire for active participation in political debates and advocacy, aligning with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 and ECOWAS Vision 2050.

During the summit, participants analyzed the current peace and security situation in the region and explored the role of technology in accelerating regional stability and growth. They highlighted the importance of promoting existing yet under-recognized initiatives relevant to the digital domain.

Amb. Francis Njoaguani, Director of the Centre for Youth and Sport Development of ECOWAS and Resident Representative of Ag in Burkina Faso, reaffirmed the ECOWAS Commission’s commitment to youth development. He represented the Commissioner of the ECOWAS Commission for Political, Peace and Security Affairs and emphasized the collective effort needed to build a prosperous and peaceful region.

Constant Gnacadja, Head of the Mediation and Coordination Service of Regional Political Affairs (MRCPA) of the ECOWAS Commission, called for sustaining the “fire of partnership.” Supporting partners, including Alimou Diallo from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vincent Azumah from the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), stressed the importance of continued positive youth engagement.

Supported by USAID, WANEP, the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS), and the Danish Agency for International Development (DANIDA), the Youth Summit 2024 centered on themes such as digital innovation, inclusion, regional economic growth, and peace and stability in West Africa.

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