Youth the key to competitiveness and growth in Africa

6 May 2016

Brand South Africa presented an overview of the organisation and its efforts to encourage competitiveness in Africa at the 2016 Junior Chamber International (JCI) Africa and Middle East Conference, held in Johannesburg from 4 to 7 May 2016. The organisation presented during the conference’s Active Citizenship Workshop on 5 May 2016.

CEO Kingsley Makhubela also gave a keynote address on nation branding and the power of the youth in strengthening the nation brand.

The Active Citizenship Workshop, presented by members of JCI Africa, focused on encouraging young people to become partners in progress for socioeconomic development. The aim of the workshop, and the conference itself, was to harness effective youth development practices to engage young people in the active roles they can take to build social cohesion.

Delegates included JCI president Paschal Dike of Nigeria, and Tshepo Thlaku, chairman of the 2016 JIC event and president of JCI South Africa.

The BSA presentation highlighted the many strides the country has made in building its reputation in Africa and the world. It also looked at the social and economic advancement of the country through active citizenship and a strong focus on trade and industrial competitiveness.

The presentation aimed, in the words of the Brand South Africa slogan, to inspire new ways to motivate other African countries to become storytellers for the continent.

In his keynote address, Makhubela spoke about how young people have the ability and passion to continuously change the world. He used the examples of both the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto student uprisings and last year’s #FeesMustFall demonstrations.

“South African youth demonstrated how they could come together and collectively fight for a cause that would change the conditions for millions of young people in our country,” Makhubela said. “Education is a critical enabler for development and equally for national competitiveness. The youth of South Africa did more than just fight for no increases and additional funds, they are fighting for the country’s very development.”

Turning to global issues, particularly those affecting Africa and the Middle East, Makhubela said youth power was key to spreading democracy and reducing inequality. “Young people are playing a critical role in raising levels of awareness about the unsustainability of current frameworks and paradigms,” he said.

Concluding, Makhubela emphasised that young people must understand that with every right comes a responsibility to change the world without destroying it. He quoted the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for long term growth and development on the continent, which states: “Present generations are confident that the destiny of Africa is in their hands, and that we must act now to shape the future we want.”

Annually, the JCI conference brings together over 1 000 young active citizens, representing more than 50 partner countries from Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The attendees participate in a host of inspirational sessions, practical workshops, meetings with important political and economic players, as well as fun social events. These all encourage emerging young talent to share best practices, exchange ideas and determine the future of the organisation and the young people in the regions it represents.

SouthAfrica.info reporter