President Adama Barrow yesterday pledged his government's commitment to reduce youth unemployment from 38% to 25% by 2021 (medium term).
He revealed that his government has already increased the budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Youth and Sports and its satellite agencies for better performance. Through the national Youth Council, a new youth policy will also be formulated soonest and align to the National development plan (NDP 2018-2021).
"A key characteristic of the New Gambia has been that my government insists on the inclusion of the youth in our development and reform processes," President Barrow told the youths.
He made this pledge at the opening of the Youth Connekt Gambia Summit at a local hotel. Some 300 representatives of youth groups from across the country gathered at the event to network, discuss, and strategise on issues of youth employment, entrepreneurship, training and empowerment.
President Barrow went on to outline his government's commitment to strengthen the National Youth Council as the interface between the government and the youth, so that it is fully operational in all districts. The underlying strategy is to make the council better able to communicate government policies, while sharing the concerns of the youths across the country.
Youth Connekt Africa is a Pan-African regional initiative; a high impact solution to harnessing the demographic dividend in Arica. It was embraced for its innovative design and implementation strategies, and noted for providing the youth with the much needed skills, networks and opportunities for them to scale up their initiatives.
The initiative, now launched by The Gambia as the seventh country in Africa, is designed to enable youths acquire decent jobs to contribute to economic growth.
"This initiative is quite important and relevant for my government as it focuses on very important components of the National Development Plan. In fact, the goals and target of the Youth Connekt Africa Initiative aimed at addressing youth unemployment, skill gaps, youth leadership and bridging the gender gaps in all sectors are matters that are dear to my heart," President Barrow told the conference.
President Barrow expressed hope that all these goals for the Youth Conneckt can be accomplished through the implementation of the NDP, and by empowering of Ministry of Youth and Sports and its satellite institutions. This includes strengthening the national Youth Council to improve coordination of youth policies, programmes and strategies.
"It is with confidence that, therefore, I renew my government's commitment to creating the enabling environment for the youth to thrive. However, I call on all stakeholders and partners to translate the current challenges into opportunities in order achieve our targets," President Barrow said.
He urged the youth to channel their efforts, energies and time into productive activities and entrepreneurship.