Youths and African Integration (By Abdoulaye Zorome)

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I sincerely believe that integration (starting with sub-regional integration) is a must if Africa is ever has to live up to its full potential. Integration appears to be a buzzword nowadays without anyone really understanding or living up to the full meaning of the word. For me, integration is very crucial and should encompass political, social, and economical aspects as well. However, multiple obstacles remain unaddressed due to selfish and illogical calculations from various nation states.

Here is a personal experience. Last year, I decided to go to Bamako in Mali. Leaving from my hometown Bobo Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso, this trip should under normal circumstances be a short and easy one. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed because after leaving at 9 am we only arrived at 7 pm due to the endless and useless checkpoints. The number of checkpoints, coupled with the unnecessary and unjustified fees makes mobility across African borders sometimes even more painful and stressful than going to Europe or the United States. There is a serious need to review policies regarding road and transport in Africa (road remains the first choice and the cheapest way to travel in Africa).

African youths, I believe have a central role to play in the realization of regional integration. Talks about a “United States of Africa” will never advance until regional integration is given real attention. With technology, it is now possible to build relationships and partnerships across borders. African youths should play a crucial role in this regard. To achieve this, we do not need politicians to lead the initiatives, but individually we can contribute. African youths should use the opportunity presented by technology advancement in advancing connectedness and collaborations across frontiers. Issues that need serious deliberations include immigration, development, climate change, technological gap, poverty and education.

During elections times, my observation as a young Burkinabe is that youths (me included) show certain apathy for national politics. However, the road to integration starts with African youths exercising their political rights and duties. For that, we do not always have to be college educated. Despite the existing legitimate arguments on why African youths are disconnected from the electoral process, I believe that staying involved before, during, and after election times is very important and could consolidate democracy, an important condition for effective regional integration. Without the involvement in domestic politics, it is impossible to affect changes at the regional level.

With more African youths being educated abroad and domestically, the chances of promoting integration through friendships and collaborations are higher than ever. Solving the most daunting challenges of poverty and development will inevitably come through the integration of cultures, economies, politics, and more importantly brains.

My last observation concerns the lack of travelling habits generally exhibited by African youths. Travelling plays an important role in broadening one’s horizon and the understanding of other people. Travelling to a neighbouring country like Ghana was an eye opener for me and I learned a great deal from that experience.

In summary, integration is a must and African youths should be actively engaged in order to make integration a reality that will benefit the entire continent.


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