President Ruto urges young Africans to focus their energy on tackling existing problems

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Kenya’s President William Ruto has named Africa’s youthful labour force, its energy resources and its natural assets as the three factors that will drive green growth and climate resilience globally.

Ruto spoke at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre on the 1st of September at the opening of the Africa Youth Climate Assembly. This was ahead of the 2023 Africa Climate Summit and Africa Climate Week, which begin on the 4th of September. All three forums will run in parallel.
Officials from the African Development Bank, led by Bank president Akinwumi Adesina, are taking part in the three events, which will build consensus on Africa’s climate priorities ahead of this year’s global climate conference, COP28, in November.

Ruto said: “These three elements—labour, energy and natural assets—are the driving forces behind the technical feasibility and commercial viability of the solutions we need for tomorrow.” The theme of the Africa Youth Climate Assembly was ‘African-led Solutions to Global Challenges.’
The Kenyan president commended young Africans for their tenacity and urged them to focus their energy on tackling existing problems. Addressing the diverse young leaders, activists, innovators, and change-makers from across Africa in the audience, Ruto said: “African youth must be solution-oriented. Being here and holding this event, you fought your way and continue demanding the opportunity that you deserve.”
The Kenyan president also said that African youth represented immensely valuable human capital for the entire world. Africa will comprise 25% of the global workforce by 2050 and 40% by 2100.

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African Union Youth Envoy Chido Mpemba—Special Envoy for Youth at the African Union Commission—said the Assembly will be inclusive and bring together a diverse cohort of young leaders, activists, innovators, and change-makers from across Africa. She said it would serve as a rallying point on the climate-related vulnerabilities that African countries face.
Representatives of several countries spoke about the vital role of the youth in fighting climate change. Maarten Brouwer, representing the Netherlands’ Ambassador to Kenya, announced the Netherlands’ commitment to financing the Global Challenge Fund for Youth, a body that generates green employment opportunities across Africa.
Mohamed Barre, Somalia’s Minister for Youth Affairs, underscored the urgency of determined actions to address the far-reaching consequences of climate change.

The African Development Bank organised a plenary session on green jobs and skills. Director for Climate Change and Green Growth Anthony Nyong stressed the need to integrate youth in the decision-making processes at a global level.

Nyong said: “This assembly is a beacon of hope. It shows that African Youth are tired of being on the sidelines and they have created a table for themselves. They are ready to transform the current African narratives.”
The session also featured presentations of ground-breaking innovations by laureates of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme’s YouthADAPT initiative. These young entrepreneurs received funding support from the African Development Bank and the Global Center on Adaptation. They showcased their innovations, highlighting the need for unique and sustainable solutions.

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