Conference on youth, democratization in Africa opens here

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Addis Ababa, November 02 (WIC) - An international conference which addresses the issue of youth and democratization in Africa with emphasis on comparative experiences and lessons learned in various countries, especially in North African countries opened here on Thursday.

The comparative experiences of North and Sub-Saharan Africa, East Europe and Latin America will be discussed in the conference being held under the theme: Youth and Democratization in Africa: Lessons Learned and Comparative Experiences.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), UN Development Program (UNDP) and Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) co-organized the 3-day conference.

While opening the conference, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Mobilization and Participation, Redwan Hussien said the role that the youth can play in supporting democracy in Africa, cannot be underestimated.

He said most of the democracies in present day Africa are the results of the youth, who in most cases sacrificed themselves to promote the idea of democracy.

He highlighted the role and sacrifice of youth in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and the recent youth movements in Northern African countries towards democratization.

ECA Executive Secretary, Carlos Lopez on his part said though Africa is a continent with up to 60 percent of its population under the age of 25, its youth who should give momentum to the growth and democratization of the continent are largely alienated and marginalized.

Young Africans are barely involved in policy formulation and program design, he said and adding, their participation in politics and decision making is limited and often ad hoc.
He said African youth have shown that given the opportunity, they can use latest information and communications technologies to push their political agenda.