Catalyst for Change: The Pan-African Youth Conference

Written by Olajide Ojeniyi, member of the Young People Advisory Board


The electrifying atmosphere of the 4th Pan-African Youth Conference on African Unity and Development in Nairobi still crackles in my memory. Being surrounded by passionate young minds from over 37 African countries was truly inspiring. The theme, “Beyond All Talks; Youth as Drivers of Africa’s Peace, Political and Socio-Economic Development,” resonated deeply with me, igniting a renewed commitment to contribute to the continent’s progress.


The opening ceremony set the tone for a powerful day. Hon Ababu Namwamba’s delegation’s call for youth leadership resonated deeply, reminding me of the immense potential we possess. The morning panels tackled critical issues like technology’s role in tackling unemployment. This session sparked a lively discussion about the need for digital skills training and youth-driven innovation hubs across Africa. As a computer science background myself, I was particularly interested in exploring how these initiatives can empower young people like us to be not just consumers but creators of technology.


Afternoon sessions focused on strengthening youth participation in public affairs. The panel on youth councils in political participation was particularly insightful. Hearing successful examples from other countries motivated me to explore the possibility of starting a youth council in my own community. Imagine a platform where young voices are heard, shaping local policies and driving positive change! The “Loss and Damage” session later that day underscored the urgency of climate action. The emphasis on intergenerational dialogue resonated with me – bridging the gap between youth and experienced leaders is crucial for crafting effective solutions for a sustainable future.


Day 2 dawned with a historic moment: the official participation of the Pan African Youth Union (PYU). Witnessing this collaboration solidified my belief in the power of unity. Together, organizations like the AYC and PYU can amplify the voices of young Africans on a global stage.


Speeches by inspiring young leaders like Priscillah, the Child Psychologist, and Makida Boyd, the UNFPA Fellow, further emphasized the importance of youth opportunities. Their stories ignited a fire within me – we, the youth, have the potential to not only dream of a better Africa but to actively shape it.


Panel discussions delved into crucial topics like promoting youth participation in elections and mainstreaming gender equality. The emphasis on empowering women leaders felt particularly important. Africa’s progress hinges on the full participation of all its citizens, and women play a pivotal role in building a more inclusive and prosperous future.


A Legacy of Inspiration


Miss Natalie Mukundane’s farewell address as the AYC Chairperson was truly moving. Her dedication to transparency and accountability sets a powerful example for all young leaders. The election of the new Executive Council, led by Marubini Muswede, signifies a new chapter for the AYC.


Leaving the conference, I felt a surge of optimism and a renewed sense of purpose. The 4th Pan-African Youth Conference wasn’t just about talks; it was a catalyst for change. I’m determined to leverage the knowledge and connections I gained to make a positive impact. The Pan-African Youth Conference served as a powerful reminder that the future of Africa rests on our shoulders. And together, we, the passionate young minds of this continent, have the power to build a brighter, more united Africa.