Accra, August 12,2018.
Safe Spaces for Youth
On the occasion of the 2018 International Youth Day, the Secretariat of the African Youth SDGs Summit hosted by Youth Advocates Ghana and its partners, wish to congratulate all young people across Africa for their continued interest in creating safe spaces for themselves and also demand a policy shift that will support their potentials at all levels in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals and the Africa we want-Agenda2063 .
In 1999, the UN General Assembly designated 12th August as International Youth Day. It is an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in driving sustainable development.
“Safe Spaces for Youth” as the 2018 theme for International Youth Day is appropriate and timely. Safe spaces such as digital spaces help youth interact virtually across borders with everyone. Digital technologies and the spaces they provide can deliver economic opportunities by providing young people with training opportunities and job-matching services, and by creating new kinds of work. Moreover, digital spaces allow young people to access information on issues that affect their communities and can help them identify their roles in solving them.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically target 17.8 emphasizes that there should be a “full operationalization of the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 to enhance the use of technology, in particular information and communications technology”. Furthermore, the New Urban Agenda (NUA) reiterates the need for public spaces for youth to enable them to interact and have constructive inter-generational dialogue.
However, according to UNICEF, African youth are the least connected- around 60 per cent are not online, compared with just 4 per cent in Europe. Negative country specific digital and internet regulatory policies in Africa keep tabs on its young population. In Uganda for instance, the country’s telecoms regulator in July 2018, introduced Uganda shillings 200 daily tax on the usage of social media in a country whose internet penetration stands at just 22%, according to the World Bank.
The gap gets even wider when the data is disaggregated. Intel’s Women and the Web report revealed that “on average across the developing world, nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions like sub-Saharan Africa.”
In Africa, access to internet facilitates social networking for those already online, with Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter being the most popular apps.
As we mark this special day, the Secretariat and partners for the African Youth SDGs Summit call upon African governments to;
- Broaden the digital space by making it accessible and affordable for young people, especially girls and young women, everywhere in Africa
- Support through increased funding and a new fund where it is non-existent to encourage innovations by young people around improving the digital space
- Refrain from avoidable and unnecessarily restrictive access to information in order to enable more young people participate in governance through scrutiny of public services in demand for accountability and good usage of public funds as well as providing alternative advisory.
An Africa of free internet access is possible as this would boost research and innovation that is needed to rejuvenate Africa from poverty, disease and ignorance. As Ghana prepares to host the 2018 edition of the African Youth SDGs Summit from 7-9 November, we wish to state that technology for the SDGs and creating safe, credible and empowering spaces for young people to interact and build their leadership skills are central to the summit agenda. For registration and participation, kindly visit www.youthsdgssummit.org