In welcoming you to our new online platform, we asked AAYMCA General Secretary, Carlos Sanvee, to answer a few questions on the purpose of the Africa we Want online platform and the need for Agenda 2063 in Africa’s development future.
Why is the African Union’s Agenda 2063 vision important to African YMCAs?
The idea of a pan-African dimension to African development started a long time ago with all those African leaders who fought for independence, but unfortunately it never materialised. When Thabo Mbeki spoke of the African Renaissance and what his vision for Africa was, it shaped the future we dream of for our continent. When the African Union leaders drafted the Agenda 2063 development plan it matched well with the vision and mission the African YMCAs set in 2007, and it aligned perfectly to our goal to put young people in the driver’s seat of the African Renaissance.
Why is the new AwW online platform important?
We always make youth our priority. With the online platform we are primarily addressing Africa’s young people because they are in the driver’s seat of the African Renaissance which means that their needs and decisions must be shared and discussed publicaly.
Youth culture today is primarily digital and most young people spend a lot of time online, even in places with poor technology. The recent World Alliance of YMCAs One Million Voices research indicates that globally, on average, youth spend about 11 hours online, per week. We have responded to that by creating a space where young people can share their own visions, where they can build scenarios for African realities and Africa’s future. The online platform is where we will find young people speaking openly… we hope this platform will attract young people and that they share their vision for the Africa they want and also, importantly, talk about the Africa they don’t want.
Why does the online platform focus on Health, Employment, Education, and Access to technology and capital?
From our research and our work, these are the sectors where young people say they need their voices to be heard. There are other challenges that are important and need to be discussed, like climate change and radicalisation. We are not overlooking them, but the online platform will grow and expand so this collaborative space will always adapt to create space for the issues youth need to discuss.
Personally, what Africa do you want to see in the next decade?
I want an Africa that has dignity. An Africa that has recovered its dignity and is able to stand proud on the global stage where we have nothing to be ashamed of. I want an Africa that is able to equally contribute to the global village we often speak of. A continent where rich and poor, those close to us and strangers alike, are able to equally contribute. The question then is, how do we build our dignity? It is about building our own mind-sets to believe that we are as equally equipped to succeed as people from other continents. We need to change our mind-set so that we have a continent where children, women, elders, LGBT people, and other minority groups are respected as equals and where people believe that they can achieve their dreams. I want an Africa where people feel free to dream, without threat or a lack of resources.
I also want to see an Africa of equal share. We often hear about economic growth but we don’t often see how economic growth benefits women and young people.
I think we also need an Africa that is free of border restrictions and currencies that make it difficult to succeed. I want to see free movement for African citizens so we can move from east to west, north to south, without visa controls. We need currencies that support our freedom of movement, a currency that respects our unique African position so that we are not controlled by outside influences.
How do you intend on using the new online platform?
I want to use it to give me a fresh view of young people, a view that is constantly being added to and regularly being discussed; I want to hear from them. I want to be able to use the platform to see what youth think about the scenarios they face. I also want to use it to challenge young people and have them challenge us back. We believe in reverse mentoring, so I want to listen and hear what their vision and advice for the youth movement is so that the movement becomes stronger and grows as youth needs grow.
What message do you have for AwW online platform users?
Creating a popular space for youth voice is a dream and it can easily become a reality. Many in Africa treat their dreams as risks. At the YMCA we take the risk of believing in the Africa we Want, we believe it will become the Africa we Have. So, this is a platform for everyone to believe with us and help us. If leaders at country and African Union level see us believing, they will follow, but if we let them sleep, they will sleep. My invitation is that you join us and let us dream together. Let us work together, let our leaders believe together with us. We know that it is a dream that will work and will help all of Africa’s youth to succeed.