Speech by Mr Dumisani Mngadi, Chief Operations Officer of the African Union Foundation during the opening of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps 8 th Batch pre-deployment training

  1. Ladies and gentlemen, it is not by accident that we find ourselves today, 04 December 2017 in the home ground of one of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity – now the African Union – H.E. Kwame Nkurumah who led this beautiful nation to independence from the British in 1957. As one of the foremost Pan Africanists, Nkurumah and other founding fathers and mothers of the AU, as we know it today, laid down their lives and carved a path for all of us to know and deeply understand what it is to be Africans and to ascribe to the spirit of Pan Africanism.

 

  1. As I was preparing for my address today, I wanted to take you back to the to the importance of Pan Africanism and the spirit of solidarity amongst us Africans and its importance for the future of our beautiful continent – as set out in Agenda2063. I wanted to rekindle their spirits, with the hope of reviving that spirit and galvanise all of you – especially the 8th batch of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps who are gathered here today from 55 African nations – to urge you on to reach for your dreams on this continent and also assist your fellow Africans to realise theirs – in Africa – a continent that is full of possibilities.

 

  1. As a staunch believer in Pan Africanism and a father, I felt duty bound to instill that spirit especially at the dawn of the horrific images of young Africans being sold as slaves by their fellow Africans in Libya, while on their way to find a ‘better tomorrow’ and a ‘promised land’ beyond our shores.

 

  1. Just like all of you here today, those images deeply hurt me! They cut deeply through my veins because young men and women were driven out of their homes, their nations and, eventually, our continent by despair and the belief that a better future for them lied far away for them – in Europe. They believe that there is nothing for them here at home and are forced to undertake dangerous voyages to foreign lands in search for a better tomorrow.

 

  1. Despite all of that I quickly realised that my role on this stage is not to preach to you – the converted. Here you are, young men and women who have a brighter future anywhere in the world having decided to give your skills and service to better our continent – Africa.

 

 

  1. I have no illusions that you will trend on social media because of what you have done for the continent, but I for one would like to take this opportunity to salute each and everyone of you for this path. A combination of over 100 skilled individuals deciding that they are ready and willing to give up a year of their lives to better capacitate organisations within our continent is not something to be taken lightly. Just like the founders of the OAU 54 years ago, you – ladies and gentlemen – are revolutionaries and leaders who are cut from the same cloth as His Excellencies Kwame Nkurumah, Julius Nyerere, Sekou Toure and Kenneth Kaunda. Being here today simply shows to all that you have put up your hand to take this continent forward toward the realisation of Agenda2063. You have showed not only commitment, drive and belief but also deep love and loyalty towards your fellow Africans and for that we are extremely proud and indebted to you.

 

  1. As you take the first steps towards your journey to a better and brighter Africa during a year that has been dedicated by the African Union to harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth, as the African Union Foundation we have put our money where our mouth is by investing in this crucial training. The AU Foundation has set aside $100 000 for this training simply because we believe in your future and your role in Africa.

 

  1. The role of the African Union Foundation is to mobilise resources for African Development and as a young continent, and it is a no brainer for us to back a great programme like the AU Youth Volunteer Corps. This is not the first time we have put our weight behind making this programme a success. In 2015, we played a pivotal role in hosting the 6th batch training programme at the University of Johannesburg, in South Africa. We are here once again, pulling resources to ensure that this becomes a success.

 

  1. To the AU Foundation, the AU-YVC is key programme and our team has spent many hours in supporting the AU Commission in ensuring that it becomes a success. We are encouraged to learn that over 34 000 young Africans applied to be part of this batch alone – which shows the great dedication for Africans to serve and give back to the continent. However, it also hurts us deeply that the programme can only accommodate just over 100 volunteers in one year – a drop in the ocean compared to those who have put their hands up to serve. But, we are also encouraged and highly motivated by your hunger to serve and are doing our very best to source funding from the continent to cater for more volunteers.

 

  1. The AU Foundation is working towards ensuring that the AU-YVC is a sustainable programme that is fully funded by African resources and is able to accommodate larger numbers of young Africans who want to give back to their continent. The role of the AU Foundation is to engage Africa’s private sector, African citizens, communities, and leading African philanthropists to generate resources towards the AU’s priority developmental programmes that are in line with Agenda2063 and this programme is on top of that list.

 

  1. Another one of the AU Foundation programmes is the African Economic Platform, a platform that brings together African heads of state, business leaders, academics and youth to discuss African development. The inaugural African Economic Platform took place in March this year in Mauritius. Amongst the key topics covered were Industrialisation, Intra-African Trade, Skills Development and Free Movement of People and Goods across Africa, our beautiful continent. This was a great success and we will be holding another one in Mauritius again in March, this time also awarding young African Innovators who have created innovations that solve problems in the energy sector.

 

  1. It is only through vigorous resource mobilisiation from the African continent that programmes such as the AU-YVC can thrive and provide a platform to many more deserving young Africans who are willing to give of their time and skills to develop the continent.

 

  1. Standing here today, I don’t need to be convinced that Africa has a brighter future and great leaders who are ready to take the baton and take us all to the promised land. The AU-YVC is a vehicle that is being used by the African Union to unearth and deliver those leaders and we are truly proud to be part of such an amazing initiative and will continue to support and also get the African private sector to prioritise this programme.

 

  1. Just before I leave the floor, please allow me to quote the words of a young Pan Africanist who is the founder of the African Leadership Academy and the African Leadership University, Fred Swaniker – who also happens to originate from Ghana. I have had the pleasure of interacting with Fred and from each interaction I am always puffed up with pride and a promise for a greater future.
  2. Fred is a former Sillicon Valley executive who decided to give back to Africa by opening an academy that is dedicated to Pan Africanism and recently a University to train young Africans to fulfill their dreams on the continent. Asked why he had decided to live and work in Africa while the world seems to be his oyster, he had this to say,
  3. I quote: “I believe that Africa today is where China was 30 years ago. We are beginning to take off and those on the ground today will capture all these exciting opportunities, especially if they think like entrepreneurs and solve societal problems. Why not take advantage of Africa’s abundant land, sunshine and rain become agro-billionaires by growing and exporting huge amounts of food to the world’s ballooning population with over 1,2 billion people?” – end quote.

 

  1. I am not here today to convince you that you have made the right decision to take part in this programme, but I want to re-assure you that as the AU Foundation, we will support you in all your endevours to make our continent better and we congratulate you for this self-less step you have taken.

 

  1. I would also like to thank the government of the Republic of Ghana for hosting this training programme and for putting resources to make it a success in their beautiful country.
  2. Asante sana