ECOWAS Moves to Improve Efficiency of Regional Youth Programme

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Porto Novo - Benin — Directors of youths affairs in ECOWAS Member States began a meeting on Monday, 17th December 2012 in Porto Novo, Republic of Benin to propose how to improve the efficiency of the youth capacity building programme of the Ouagadougou- based regional centre for youth development. The Centre seeks to build the skills of youths in the region in order to empower them for self-sufficiency and boost national development.

The directors will, during the three-day meeting, review reports of four consultants retained by the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre (EYSDC) to evaluate the value and weaknesses of its capacity building programmes between 2007 and 2011 under which youths from the region are trained in various skills at different regional centers of excellence. Youths under the scheme, which is conducted in the regional centers of excellence in Soufouroulaye (Mali), Songhai Centre, Porto Novo (Benin) and Ziniare (Burkina Faso), are trained in building electrical wiring, agro- business, air-conditioning/refrigeration and auto mechanic, respectively. The review will enable the country representatives and EYSDC officials to fashion a strategy to improve the efficiency of youth programmes, make them more responsive to the needs of countries as well as coordinate their efforts to fill the identified gaps such as the selection criteria and follow ups to ensure that beneficiaries are capacitated to put the benefits of their training into practice.

A representative of Benin's minister of youth, sports and entertainment, Madame Lima Sidonie extolled the values of such training as an important contribution to youth empowerment, to equip them to play a more effective role in nation building. "We need to do all we can to empower the youth and to involve them in the decision making process since the future not only belongs to them but also to ensure they matured to take their destiny in their own hands," Madame Lima, the Benin director of youth, said while opening the meeting at the Songhai Centre in the nation's administrative capital Porto Novo. The director of the EYSDC, Mr Francis Chuks Njoaguani outlined the importance of the scheme under which some 587 youth from Member States have been trained and returned to their countries to equip them to contribute to national and regional development.

The director said the scheme was designed to ensure that the energies of youth are deployed positively for national and regional development. He said the meeting was being held in recognition of the need for synergy between member states and the Centre and to boost collaboration toward improving programme implementation and ensure that beneficiaries are equipped to put such skills into meaningful use. The directors will discuss four reports and the accompanying recommendations and thereafter make proposals for improving the scheme to deliver on the expectations of the beneficiaries and the countries as well as the mandate of the EYSDC.

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