Three partners of IIDEA attended the 2019 Pan African Youth Forum in Addis Ababa which launched the ‘1 million by 2021’ Initiative aimed at addressing the need to make African Integration relevant to young people of the continent.
The conference was organised by the AU and participative sessions with the over 400 young people attending were facilitated by GIZ advisors and experts.
During the conference organisations aimed at empowering young people to address a variety of issues, from domestic violence and gender equity to health care apps and wireless electricity, showcased their successes and stories in stands placed around the main assembly.
As well as participating in the consultative process, IIDEA partners demonstrated how integration can mean tangible and real benefits for citizens. The stand was continuously visited by young people, decision makers, and representatives of government, development partners and the private sector. All wanting to know more about making integration a reality.
SSWEA brought along samples of their excellent Shea butter and illustrated how a small income generation project can grow when the freedoms afforded by integration allow them to increase their market and demand across the border. While their product drew the crowds, the story of how integration affected this small community and impacted on their lives was the topic that engaged visitors.
SAUTI demonstrated the innovative use of USSD and SMS technology to enable a more democratized access to trade information. Allowing small traders to access commodity prices and other information that are directly relevant to them, and the business decisions they make, can be the difference between poverty and empowerment for many families. There was also a great deal of interest in the aspect of the SAUTI innovation that allowed straightforward and simplified reporting and feedback of border experiences. Many organisations, and individuals were recognizing that this type of feedback and engagement is crucial to keeping policy development grounded in reality.
The level of interest in how integration affected the agricultural sector was high. With their marketing and platform and app to promote cross border trade between Burundi and Tanzania, NYDT was keenly reviewed. Their aim to engage rural youth in agribusiness across the region shows a greta deal of innovation. Many stakeholders of the agricultural sector were present and with two of the “4 Es” being Employment and Entrepreneurship the concept was highly topical for the delegates.
The key question during the event was “where is the relevance” with regard to the ivory towers of the AU and the citizens of the continent. IIDEA was the only, and highly praised, example of a concrete way to both demonstrate the relevance and ensure the engagement of citizens in process that are often operated on a policy and macro level.