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African Development Forum set to focus on key role of young people

UNICEF Image: Ethiopia: Speak Africa
© UNICEF Ethiopia/2006/Heavens
Delegates from UNICEF Ethiopia's ‘Speak Africa’ initiative get together to design the daily newsletter for the upcoming fifth African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 14 November 2006 – Young people from all over Africa will join UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, political leaders and entertainment stars here in the Ethiopian capital this week for the fifth African Development Forum.

The theme of this year’s Forum, ‘Youth and Leadership in the 21st Century’, provides a unique platform for young Africans to make themselves and their issues heard. Africa is a continent of the young, with more than 60 per cent of the total population below the age of 25.

Addressing a pre-Forum news conference, representatives of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Union noted that young people are crucial to the continent's future, but their views and aspirations have become marginalized.

Extensive youth input

“It will be a very participatory Forum,” said ECA’s Acting Deputy Executive-Secretary, Josephine Ouedraogo. She noted that one-third of participants are young people who will have extensive input into the consensus statement to be issued at the end of the three-day meeting, which kicks off on Thursday, 16 November.

© UNICEF Ethiopia/2006/Heavens
Ethiopian youth troupe, the Adugna Dancers, perform 'Dying to be free', a piece inspired by the 1971 Soweto uprising in South Africa, at the launch of UNICEF Ethiopia's ‘Speak Africa’ initiative.

Other prominent Africans who are due to attend the Forum include the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi; the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Professor Alpha Oumar Konare; and the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Some of the continent’s best-loved celebrities will also be in attendance, including South African rapper and actor Zola and world-renowned singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo, who is originally from Benin.

‘Speak Africa’

Forum participants will take part in debates and sessions on a wide range of issues, including:

  • Youth employment and migration
  • Youth entrepreneurship
  • Youth and information technology
  • Youth, health and HIV/AIDS.
The attendees will also get a chance to express themselves through Speak Africa – a groundbreaking initiative running parallel to this year’s Forum.

The UNICEF-backed communications venture encourages young Africans to discuss key issues through the Internet, TV and other media. It has invited children and adolescents from across the continent to cover the Forum and participate in media workshops, film screenings and exhibitions.



African Development Forum

17 November 2006
Hip-hop star Zola named Goodwill Ambassador at Forum [with video and audio]

16 November 2006
Youth leaders speak out [with video]

14 November 2006
Forum set to focus on key role of young people

AIDS campaign

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