Nigeria has become the latest country to reiterate its commitment to fast-tracking youth development and supporting empowerment during the Commonwealth's ongoing Year of Youth.
The country, which boasts one of the youngest populations in the world with a median age of 18.1 years, hosted a Commonwealth Youth and Student Summit in its political capital, Abuja.
Opening the summit, President Muhammadu Buhari committed to providing "an enabling environment for the youth to blossom and reach their potentials".
Represented at the summit by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, President Buhari said:
"Nigeria, as a firm believer in the capabilities of young people, is hosting the Summit to create a platform for the youth to network, collaborate and foster sustainable learning environment as well as promote youth development in institutions within the Commonwealth."
Attended by hundreds of young people, students, officials and representatives from organisations, UN institutions and student groups worldwide, the summit focused on crucial issues that affect youth development and empowerment.
It concluded with a joint outcome statement, which includes policy recommendations on five subthemes: the digital divide, the economy and creative industries, gender-based violence, the 'decolonisation of education', and ending child labour.
Ghanaian Christabel Derby, the Commonwealth Youth Council's Chairperson for Inclusion and Engagement and the Commonwealth Year of Youth Advisory Committee's co-chair, said: "This was a golden opportunity for youth leaders and young people to focus on some of our burning concerns".
The international development lawyer added:
"Crucially, we were able to leave Nigeria with new contacts, potential partnerships and strong recommendations to take to our governments.
"These include 'decolonising education' by tailoring curricula to specific students' needs and by integrating African knowledge systems, languages and perspectives; investing in digital infrastructures and upskilling to ensure technology is available to all; enforcing supply chain transparency to tackle child labour; creating robust legal frameworks to end gender-based violence; and encouraging and supporting young people into entrepreneurship."
Representing Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland KC, Head of the Social Policy Division, Layne Robinson, praised Nigeria for responding to the call to spotlight youth development and empowerment during its Year of Youth.
"A critical part of the Commonwealth's Year of Youth initiative is to put the concerns of young people and students at the top of the Commonwealth agenda, and Nigeria has responded positively to this call.
"With seven years to 2030, we are halfway to achieving our goals but still behind. Therefore, we need to redouble our efforts and accelerate our progress. That is why the Commonwealth has been taking tangible actions, such as strengthening our youth networks and offering 10,000 digital skills scholarships to young people.
He added: "When leaders met at the coronation of the new Head of the Commonwealth, King Charles, they made it clear that empowering youth is a shared priority and an urgent concern to all. This summit is a clear demonstration of this commitment."
During the meeting, Nigeria's Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, expressed his gratitude to the Commonwealth Secretariat for their unwavering dedication to the youth development agenda.
He said to the participants:
"From country to country, we see the youth of Africa making a great impact. They can no longer be ignored.
"What is clear is that investment and inclusivity must be at the core of our engagement with young people. We must tap into their energy and inquisitiveness to foster innovative solutions towards development."
- Amy Coles Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat