UN-HABITAT's Executive Director, Anna Tibaijuka, launched a new Global Partnership Initiative for Urban Youth in Africa yesterday . Youth from Africa, mayors from many cities around the world and representatives of civil society organizations gathered at the launch to highlight the various initiatives that young adults in Africa are involved in, and which require support.
Robert Njoroge of Kenya said that the One Stop Youth Information Center in Nairobi was an example of a concrete and tangible initiative that positively influences the lives of youth in the city. This resource centre is a pilot facility initiated by ITDG, the City of Nairobi and UN-HABITAT that allows young people to access information on employment opportunities and job-hunting techniques.
Mayor Kleist Sykes of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, welcomed the initiative while noting that unemployment, crime and governance are core areas affecting urban youth.
Earlier in the day, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT had opened the Global Youth Congress where Erna Solberg, the Norwegian Minister for Co-operation and Development, had encouraged youth too seek partnerships in the implementation of their projects and not to tire in the process.
Organizers of the Second World Urban Forum currently underway in Barcelona have given youth various platforms to articulate some of the issues affecting them. From music concerts to a partnership specifically targeted at African youth, the Forum has afforded the young with an avenue to share experiences, as well as discuss how they can improve lives in their respective cities.
In a session devoted to the Global Youth Parliament and the youth-oriented We are the Future (WAF) programme, delegates reiterated that youth must have a say in their future. Olivier Mugema, co-ordinator of the WAF programme in Kigali, Rwanda, said that youth should be allowed to decide on their future because “they could not decide for their past.”
The WAF programme ties young people from Kigali, Addis Ababa, Asmara, Nablus, Freetown and Kabul – cities described by Tim Campbell of the World Bank as “some of the toughest places on earth for those of us in the development game” – with sister cites in more developed areas and with each other.
Theoneste Mutsindash Kaya, Mayor of Kigali, said that the participation of African youth in the Second World Urban Forum “was a symbol of determination of our people to build a future of development”.
Hussein Abdallah al-Araj, Acting Mayor of Nablus and the Minister for Local Government asked youth from neighbouring nations in the Middle East to “widen the gate” through continuous contact. “If you keep widening gates,” he said, “you won't have a wall.”
On Thursday, 16 September, urban youth culture and music will be showcased by Hip Hop and rap artists from around the world who will take the stage to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals. It is expected to be a “party of purpose” featuring some of the big names in the music industry from around the globe.
Some of the musicians expected to perform include MV Bill from the “City of God” favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, La Etnnia from Colombia, Nikke Posse from Greenland and Gidi Gidi Maji Maji from Kenya. Also featured are Madocn from Norway, Godessa from South Africa and La Mala Rodriguez from Spain. The concert will also showcase break dancing by some of the best B-girls and B-boys from the city of Barcelona and Spain.