Since its creation in February 2014 by five Sahel region countries, namely Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, the G5 Sahel is gradually materializing. The G5 Sahel or "G5S" is said to be, according to the Permanent Secretary, "an institutional framework for coordination and monitoring of regional cooperation in development and security policies."
Although all these countries already belong to different regional communities, the G5 Sahel was easy to unite, due to an existing homogeneity between its peoples and the geostrategic position of the region which is also the nest of Youth radicalization in Africa, and thereby becoming the fertile ground for terrorist activities. Unfortunately, the region offers the facilitation to young West Africans’ migration to Europe via Mediterranean roads; not to mention that the Sahel region is experiencing latent ethnic conflicts and growing insecurity arising from several factors, including the climate change.
With such states’ fragility, looking at issues related to the demographic dividend seems to be a priority in Africa, not only to convert the strength and grip of (especially literate) young people activism for well-being into a force, but also to channel their efforts on a more comprehensive approach towards the management of public affairs at the triple level of governance, namely political, economic and social governance.
In the quest of solutions for better political governance, the guarantee of comprehensive democratic practice, the reality of changeover and transparency in elections, the promotion of the most basic civil and political rights are important subjects that could position youth as the strongest link of the society. As they volunteer, well-trained and engaged youth can help ensure that citizens’ right to vote is respected and secured.
In the area of economic governance, a greater part of the resolution of issues can be devolved to young people who can help find durable solutions to the fight against economic crimes, develop the rural economy, reducing public health spending (for example), while building on their imagination, innovation and creativity.
Coming to social governance, it is possible to succeed in converting young people, who are the major social services beneficiaries, into actors, catalysts and multipliers of initiatives of great social significance, in the sense of a "self-empowerment" that can be duplicated and expanded. To do this, whether they are inside the country or in the Diaspora, youth could facilitate a transfer of competence and values that convey work, patriotism, collaboration, diversity and tolerance between ethnic groups and social classes.
To achieve this, it requires, quite simply, that the young generation today, more than in the past, takes ownership of matters of major importance to the region its belongs to and assumes its responsibilities, as required by Article 26 of the African Charter on Youth!
It is in this context that, far from big and sporadic forums whose results are yet to come, Zayrah Africa, a Youth-led and Youth-focus development agency, through its regional coordination "Zayrah Sahel", strives to CONSTANTLY, MONTHLY mobilize young people of the Diaspora of the Sahel region, during the "Saturday of the Sahel". The goal of this initiative is to increase the participation and contribution of young people to the governance efforts of their respective States and the Sahel community.
For its first edition scheduled for September 30th, 2017 in Dakar at the African Institute of Management (IAM), the "Saturday of the Sahel" will the discuss about: "how to harness the demographic dividend in the Sahel region in order to improve governance." This will be an open space for debate, followed by proposals, recommendations and above all commitments of the participants to help, even at a micro level, to build better political, economic and social governance in the frame of the Charter African Association of Democracy, Elections and Governance.
At the end of every "Saturday of the Sahel", which will bring together members of civil society organizations, academics, researchers, media, political and state authorities and youth organizations in the Sahel region and Senegal, recommendations will be shared amongst decision-makers to better capture the demographic dividend in the region in order to enhance its governance.
It is worth recalling that the topic of the discussion falls within the framework of the African Union’s theme of the year 2017, entitled "Harnessing the demographic dividend through investment in youth."
Zayrah Sahel is a member of the West Civil Society and is based in Senegal. It’s part of the South Africa-based Zayrah Africa, a network present in Mozambique, Tunisia, Benin and Cameroon (through Zayrah Foundation). For more information, please contact the Zayrah Sahel Coordinator, Mr Michael Matongbada, at [email protected], tel: +221 77 476 79 46.
This is an unofficial version translated from the French article.