Africa will mature by giving priority to its own citizens, if it takes advantage of its millennials, who are the most hopeful generation across the world.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the just-concluded Kusi Ideas Festival at Intare Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, Mukhisa Kituyi, the secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said the continent currently has a generation of young people who are more interested in collaboration than competition.
The discussion themed Borderless Africa and why it is a winner saw Dr Kituyi, Mr Linus Gitahi, a board member of Msingi East Africa and Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive officer of Rwanda Development Board push for a borderless continent that can allow young people to freely interact, invest and migrate within the continent as they seek to push for their respective countries’ growth.
“These young people look for opportunities beyond national frontiers. They overlook analogue boundaries and all the physical boundaries as they chase their dreams. This is the future. Governments now need to create policies for them to ease travel, access and movement across the continent,” Dr Kituyi said.
The continent’s leaders were also challenged to open up their borders to migrants and allow them to thrive within the continent as opposed to being self-centred and closed up, through restrictive travel and migration policies.
“We need to understand that almost 53 per cent of migrant movements is intra-African, and we should take advantage of this. Migrants are good both for the country they move to in terms of new and fresh human resource and also the countries they come from, through remittances. We need to encourage that,” Dr Kituyi said.
“The millennials want to trade, the same way they go about their activities on social media platforms. We are not doing them a favour. In the next 60 years, Africa will realise a mobilisation competition and the best example will be that teen climate activist (Greta Thunberg) who is mobilising her campaign through social media and mobilising for a cause. This is the future and we need to offer the best ground work for these kind of people to thrive.”
Ms Akamanzi gave Rwanda as the perfect example of how a borderless vision can spur growth in the continent.
“There is no reason to fear opening up our borders. And as Rwanda, we have championed this for the last five years and it has really helped us attract visitors and investments. That is what a borderless Africa entails,” Ms Akamanzi said.
“As a country, we have also adopted the policy and become living proof of concept where we open up policies, make it so easy to set up businesses. This is a good example with firms that have set up through ideas, prototypes and help them set up then expand to the rest of the continent. Those are some great examples of how this can be done,” Ms Akamanzi added.
Mr Gitahi challenged governments to focus on new educational curricula stressing digital technology, which he said is the face of the future.
“We have to invest in the right education that encourages entrepreneurship and create digi-tech. It is now important that we create and support nontraditional careers like the creative arts and creative business,” Mr Gitahi said.
Access to credit
“We have to aggressively support our youths to protect their assets. Governments should have policies that protect these creative ideas through patents and copyright registration.”
African governments were also urged to support the youths in accessing capital to promote their enterprise ideas, as this will help them become viable and create employment.
“We must encourage our small and medium enterprises to integrate and prosper. We give them easy access to capital and also an enabling business environment. They are being run by young people and this will spur their growth story,” Mr Gitahi added.
The two-day event event ended on December 9 and was sponsored by Nation Media Group to discuss Africa’s path for the next 60 years.