AS the world looks at the youth for sustainable development, the East African Community (EAC) has brought together 10,000 of them from across the partner states to discuss issues focusing on the regional development.
The 23rd to 27th November, 2020 event dubbed ‘The YouLead Summit’ is East Africa’s flagship Youth Leadership Development Programme that seeks to unlock youth leadership potential for a prosperous region.
The youths gather at the EAC Headquarters and six capitals in the region. It is hosted by the EAC and MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation (MS TCDC) in Arusha, Tanzania.
The initiative comes after the EAC was ranked as the most integrated bloc out of the eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) recognised by the African Union (AU).
This comes in the wake of some of the countries conducting or in a process of running their democratic elections to enhance intra-trade growth in the bloc and strengthen the power of the six countries in exports within and outside the continent.The YouLead Summit 2020, themed ‘Development is People: Youth at the centre of Peace and Development Agenda’ is a strapline of a speech by the Founding Father of Tanzania and a proponent of East African integration, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who said development must be people centred.
YouLead Summit 2020 has brought together young leaders from various sectors,government officials, development practitioners and policy makers from across the East African region to engage in dialogue addressing issues pertinent to youth in the region.
The aim is also to highlight and recognise the experience of the East African youth, who not only have to contend with the present challenges within their respective countries and beyond, but are also face uncertainties presented in having to forge a way to create an ideal future for themselves and for generations to come.
The 2020 edition of the summit, for the first time goes virtual in addition to the physical gathering at Arusha. At the regional level, sessions are held at the EAC Headquarters as the central command centre, with delegates, speakers and mentors, forming a limited physical audience under prevailing Covid-19 complaint standard operating procedures.
The command centre model is being replicated in the six EAC capitals in each country’s context. The various national level summit centres will be connected via a virtual platform. In addition, key sessions will be telecast live on various radio, TV, and social media platforms of leading media partners in the region.
The vibrant platform is providing an opportunity for the old and young, experienced and novice, to meet, interact and discuss development issues without prejudice.
Thematic areas that are being discussed at the Summit address are re-inventing leadership for East African millennials; youth at the centre of peace building and conflict prevention; accelerating economic opportunities and decent work for youth; and young women mobilising towards Goal 5 of Agenda 2030 (gender equity and women’s empowerment) and Aspiration 6 of Agenda 2063.
YouLead Summit 2020 will also feature an inter-generational dialogue on leadership, policies and results, as well the East African Youth Enterprise Award Ceremony, focused on recognising outstanding cross-border business ideas by young entrepreneurs.
The Africa Regional Integration Index (ARII) that was published recently ranked the EAC as the most integrated bloc.
The other RECs are Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), InterGovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Community of the Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).