It’s an old and accepted wisdom that Africa’s progression – in fact the world’s – is dependent on investment in its young people. With over 70% of the population across the continent aged 35 and under, it couldn’t be clearer that Africa’s challenges and its priorities, must be those of its young people.
Despite this, leadership in Africa is on average 10-20 years older than leadership in Europe and America, despite the western world’s older populations. The Africa Liberal Network (ALN) itself, despite progress in this area with, for example, the appointment of the liberal politician Sidi Toure to the position of Minister for Youth in Cote D’Ivoire, is dominated at the leadership level by politicians over a certain age.
This is why we are so proud to announce that, with the sponsorship and support of the Liberal Democrats’ International Office, the ALN has elected its first ever youth network, newly named the Africa Liberal Youth (ALY), and empowered it to become the voice of young people within the ALN and Africa.
In Nairobi, Kenya, in the days proceeding the ALN General Assembly, the six young people elected to the new youth committee met for a three-day workshop, organised by the Liberal Democrats’ International Office, designed to bring them together to make a plan for their first year in office. Bringing in experienced facilitators and trainers from the highly successful Democratic Alliance (DA, South Africa) Young Leaders Programme, we ran sessions on core liberal values, brand-development and also facilitated a day-long planning session in which the ALY wrote its vision statement and developed a set of objectives for the coming year. We also had great discussions with representatives from the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY), which represents young liberals from around the world.
The ALY will present its vision and plans to the ALN General Assembly on Thursday, outlining their goal to establish the network’s brand and online presence before the end of the year and to begin running online and media campaigns to shine a light on the major challenges facing Africa’s young people. Once they are better established, the ALY plans to develop a leadership programme to identify, develop and invest in outstanding young liberals from across the continent.
For over ten years, the Liberal Democrats have been proud sponsors of the ALN and have supported the Network to grow into the largest political affiliation in Africa. We look forward to working closely with their new youth organisation as they develop into a strong and passionate voice for Africa’s young people and for liberalism on the continent.
To follow developments at the Africa Liberal Network General Assembly, follow @AfricanLiberals and @LibDemInternat on Twitter or follow the #ALNGA hashtag.
* Harriet Shone is Head of the Liberal Democrats’ International Office.