Windhoek SADC Secretariat Director of Social and Human Development, Duduzile Simelane said that the sustainability of SADC programmes should be anchored on the young people as they constitute the majority of the region’s population.
Speaking on behalf of the SADC Secretariat Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence-Tax during the official opening of the SADC Youth Forum on Thursday December 13 at the Safari Court, Simelane said the involvement of youth in SADC is an obligation in order to realise inclusive and sustainable development in the region.
The SADC Youth Forum is an ongoing two day meeting being held from December 13 to December 14, 2018 with the main objective of accelerating youth development and empowerment through the active participation of the youth themselves. The meeting is in line with the SADC 38th adopted theme for 2018-19 “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development.”
“Available statistics show that SADC is a very young region, with about three quarters of the population being under the age of 35 years, while those between 15 and 35 years are in the region of 35 percent. This means that the sustainability of SADC programmes should be anchored on the young people if inclusive and development is to be realised in the region,” said Simelane.
She said the Declaration on Youth Development and Empowerment in SADC signed by Heads of Stead and Government in August 2015 is a pertinent call to action in this concerns.
The Director of Social and Human Development also urged participants of the SADC Youth Forum to be open minded and objective throughout the two day meeting in order to address the gaps between the current policy intentions and the reality on the ground.
According to her, youth development and empowerment is closely related to SADC’s strategic objectives to enhance human capabilities and eradicate poverty.
“Youth development and empowerment is at the core of SADC’s Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) as an explicit target output under the Social and Human Development portfolio. This means that youth development and empowerment is closely related to SADC’s strategic objective to enhance human capabilities and utilisation, and reduce vulnerability as well as eradicating human poverty and attain the well-being of SADC citizens. For this to be achieved, the SADC particularly pursues policies and programmes to ensure that there is educated, skilled, healthy and productive human resources required for promoting investment,” she said.
Simelane said the meeting is also a platform for member states to learn from their past and generate new ideas for improved programming and delivery for comprehensive services to the youth in order for the region can reap the much talked about demographic youth dividend.
The official opening of the SADC Youth Forum was officiated by Namibia Minister of Sports, Youth and National Service, Erastus Uutoni.