By:  Lebogang Victor Ditsebe for ACTIVATE! Change Drivers

Last week young minds across the country joined minds to unpack the role to be played by youth in Africa to realise the transformation of the continent in a youth-led dialogue.

The theme of this auspicious event took place under the cry of every young person’s concern in Africa of “leaving no one behind, and how young people can be active game players and drivers of Africa’s transformation to achieve Agenda 2030, which was held on the 18th of April 2023 in Milkplum Café – Pretoria National Botanical Gardens.

Much more so, vigorous conversations were held in the engagement, much more in contrast to engagements civil society organisations are having – the engagement was attended by relevant stakeholders who were panellists in their various fields of work and industry. And their names are, Ms Shamiela Reid who concentrated thoroughly on the complex and relevant issues of climate change, Mr Songezo Mhambi  who has established the Mdantsane Mobile network, whose discourse was primarily found on the topic of bridging the digital divide, and Ms Tendaiishe Chitima who focused on creative industries which are booming in Africa, when she discussed how young people in Africa are being recognised and taken seriously for their craft by international creative industries as she is an international actress, and lastly Miss Tebogo Suping who discussed youth voices and choices.

This auspicious event, by the United Nations Development Programme South Africa, received a humungous energy boost and concentration when the key layer of the engagement was started off by panel discussion Anchor: Ms Zamayirha Peter who asked the room if enough has been done to realise the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and whether youth in Africa had been sufficiently empowered to attain this goal.

It was also noted that all panellists are active in youth employment and youth citizenry in each of their individual spaces and are working towards advocating how civic education can be interwoven in all factors concerning young people in Africa and South Africa.

It must be noted, that the United Nations Development Programme is calling young people to be active change agents. Ms. Shamiela Reid raised her concerns about young people in South Africa’s negligence in addressing climate change-related issues, and the concern remains that young are not looking into climate change as a critical aspect of everyday life concern, but rather see climate change as a far-fetched idea.

Next panellist, Ms Tendaiishe Chitima addressed the creative sector, whereby she mentioned that young people in Africa are capable of competing with their international counterparts provided that there is an outpouring of access to mentorship, access to the ability to be incubated in film studios and her last question was crucial on the idea that, are young people in Africa having enough training in the creative industry?

Without question, Songezo Mhambi concentrated to put to the floor a resounding question also to the UNDP Director for Africa, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa on entrepreneurship, does Africa have enough skills, resources, motivation and access to be capacitated to be entrepreneurs leading for the youth to be established in business – because 90% of his company’s employees are young people under the age of 35 years at Mdantsane Mobile, which entails he has managed to eradicate youth unemployment – but the question still remains can the African continent follow suit in this regard?

Finally, Activate Change Drivers Executive Director, Ms. Tebogo Suping has nailed the coffin into the discussion by raising thee awareness on a lack of young people’s active participation in civic education duties and matters.

Ms. Suping reiterated the words of all panelists by noting that young people are being left out of tables of decision making and there is a lack of investment placed on civic education matters in South Africa. Her concerns ranged on the fact that, young people in Africa must not and should not sugarcoat their message of development, and young people need to realise the importance of being active in addressing their plight and concerns, especially with the decaying state of affairs in South Africa.

What’s more in the discussion, it has been noted by the audience that there exists a need for intergovernmental conversations, and self-reflection amongst young people leading into the 2024 general elections is required, in terms of will young people accept the status quo or lead the charge with accepting personal responsibility on the continent’s deterioration.

Similarly to the diagnosis of Ms. Tebogo Suping, UNDP Director for Africa, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa has left no stone unturned by criticizing the current crop of young leaders who need to realise their WHY-FACTOR in fighting for Africa’s now liberation struggle, and that youth in Africa requires the necessary audacity to fight the injustices which are taking place in the African continent.

By her famous words which were taught to her by her mother, the UNDP Director for Africa wrapped up the engagement by mentioning that the current poverty in Africa, is the poverty of the mind and young people in Africa need to find any necessary means to build their skills, and work towards liberating themselves and their families – because it always seems impossible until it’s done.

The engagement ended with high spirits, more reflection than necessary and substantial connection among youth who decided to join hands to be active builders in finding a remedy to current Africa’s malady.

About the author

Lebogang Victor Ditsebe, is member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers writers hub, a social journalist and activist. Proudly a 2018 activator from

Kimberley Northern Cape, whose passionate about climate change, and an optimist whose

dreams are rooted in working towards a better South Africa for all.

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