Until recently, an emblematic country of a stable and democratic Africa, Senegal seems to be in the middle of the ford one year from a presidential election of all the dangers marked by tensions around a possible third mandate of Macky Sall and sequences repeated legal proceedings for the one who appears to be the most radical opponent, but also the most serious competitor of the current head of state. In such a context, more than ever, the voice of young people must count. Khadim Diop, president of the National Youth Council, spoke to Point Afrique.
Le Point Afrique: The organization you chair deserves to be known. What can you tell us?
Khadim Diop: The National Youth Council of Senegal was created in 1954. It brings together all the youth organizations and movements in our country. Our mission is to promote young people and represent them in all decision-making bodies, whether at the level of government, territorial policies, but also within the framework of technical and financial partnerships. We are thus present, through associations, in all the territorial authorities. Thus at the level of municipalities, districts, departments, regions and of course at the broader national level where we federate trade unions, students, associations of people with reduced mobility, entrepreneurs and movements dedicated to employment young people.
If you have to define your structure today, what do you say? Is it an administrative structure, a trade union body or a civil society body?
The National Youth Council is a civil society organization. Our primary objective is to fight against youth unemployment by being a force for proposals and action in close collaboration with the government and local authorities. It is also to promote youth activities both locally and nationally. It should be recalled here that for the entire continent, there is a Pan-African Youth Union, whose mission is to bring our voice to bodies as important as the African Union with the aim of contributing, together, to the emergence of our respective countries.
Africa is beset by economic problems, but also by extremism and religious obscurantism. How did you view the African Peace Conference organized last January in Nouakchott to ward off the harmful consequences for our countries?
Young people make up more than 70% of Africa's population. Nothing is possible without them, so the United Nations system has asked States to involve them in all conflict resolutions. I recall its Resolution 2250 dealing with the subject of youth from the perspective of international peace and security. Recognizing the efforts of young people in peacebuilding, this resolution provides a set of guidelines on which policies and programs should be developed by Member States, the UN and civil society. This global policy framework, adopted by the UN Security Council in December 2015, explores the impact of conflict on the lives of young people and what needs to be done to mitigate its effects, as well as how young people can be included significantly in creating peaceful communities. As key pillars of this resolution, they revolve around key actions such as participation, protection, prevention, partnership, disengagement and reintegration. This explains and justifies that we were present at this conference to make our contribution to the fight against violent extremists but also to make young people aware of the importance of living in countries at peace, a sine qua non condition for hoping for emergence.
What decisions do you recommend for young people to be part of a logic of good governance?
The priority of priorities seems to me to start by offering young people a quality education followed by qualifying training to increase their chances of finding a job. Should I remind him? Every year, in our countries, more than 200,000 young people leave schools and universities. It is the responsibility of the State and its technical and financial partners to try to create an environment that favors this.
Another priority is to give young people access to land and water. Entrepreneurship is not possible when young people cannot access land. The financial envelope dedicated to projects and programs concerning young people must be increased, for a simple reason: the State cannot employ all young graduates, it is necessary to encourage their self-employment.
There is self-employment, but also the need for the country to create value locally. How do you view this requirement?
At the level of the National Youth Council, our wish is to change logic, to move from that of representation to that of the creation of wealth where young people will have a greater share. For this reason, it is important not only to encourage young people to create businesses and cooperatives, but also to ensure better monitoring of projects and programs. If we take the example of Senegal, we realize the magnitude of the challenge. Admittedly, the state has put 50 billion CFA francs on the table to support projects and programs for young people, but it would take 150 billion. This substantial gap would benefit from being filled.
How do you view the future of Africa?
We have reason to be optimistic, because the continent has a competent and increasingly committed youth for its development. As a youth organization we must lead by example to inspire and encourage those we represent. This is the best way to invite them to work for the emergence of an Africa where the future of the world is at stake.