Young people from some 53 African countries are set to congregate in Abuja, Nigeria between 26-28 July 2011 for the first ever urban youth assembly on the continent.
The First African Urban Youth Assembly to be held at the Yar A'dua International Conference Center is scheduled to be officially opened by the Nigerian head of state Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and will be held under the theme 'youth and prosperity in the city for sustainable urban development'.
Staging over three days, the gathering event will also be attended by UN-HABITAT Envoys.
The Habitat Agenda promotes a positive vision where everyone has access to adequate housing, a safe and healthy environment with basic services and which can manage mobility through better urban planning and provide better public services to avoid urban sprawl. Sixty per cent of people in African cities also live in slums and informal developments because of inappropriate or inadequate policies. This percentage is even higher in post-conflict countries.
Addressing urban issues offers opportunity to tackle wider development concerns such as unemployment, safety and security, social exclusion and the provision of basic services, gender inequality, climate change and the environment.
At the same time, this is an opportunity to learn from the young optimistic spirit and seemingly boundless energy, best practices and lessons from the local, national and global levels and to present a platform for recognizing the potential of youth and youth initiatives to advocate for youth concerns, achievements and solutions.
Of around 620 million economically active 15 to 24-year-olds, 81 million were unemployed at the end of 2009, the highest number since records began in 1991, according to the ILO. That puts the global youth unemployment rate at 13%, up from 11.9% just before the global downturn in 2007.
Unemployment can lead to idle young people engaging in crime and violence. This has a profound impact on human development and economic costs can be very high, particularly for developing countries. Africa's rapidly growing cities need to be strategically guided for longer-term sustainability.