The 2019 African Economic Conference (AEC), has key focus on jobs, skills and capacity development for Africa’s youth.— Delegates urge policymakers at 2019 African Economic ConferenceAfrica must work as one to turn the continent’s ‘youth bulge’ into opportunities, delegates at the closing of the 2019 African Economic Conference said on Wednesday.The three-day conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, discussed initiatives for boosting entrepreneurship, improving the business ecosystem, access to capital and better infrastructure – all to create decent jobs for the continent’s unemployed and under-employed youth.Hanan Morsy, Director of Macroeconomic Forecasting and Research at the African Development Bank, underscored the importance of gainful and decent employment for the bulge of African youths seeking jobs or keen to set up their own businesses.“At the African Development Bank, we recognize that addressing the problem is not an easy task that a single organization or country could accomplish alone. It needs a concerted effort,” Morsy said.“It needs governments to work together and share experiences; international organizations to join hands, the private sector to work with policymakers, the youth to voice their concerns, and researchers to share policy-relevant evidence that will inform policies.”The 2019 conference, hosted by the African Development Bank in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), brought together government ministers, researchers, young entrepreneurs and civil society to explore ways to boost jobs and skills for Africa’s youth.Angela Lusigi, Strategic Advisor at the UNDP urged decision-makers to prepare for a changing demography and the impacts of a changing climate to create a brighter future for the continent.“We have to anticipate and leverage the shift that we know are going to happen in terms of our demography, our climate and our people’s movements and together we can reimagine a different future of Africa,” Lusigi said.Reform of the education system is crucial, she said. “Let’s think deeper. We want to know what works in the African context. All our education systems have to look at creating future oriented skills because the solutions we have today will not work tomorrow.”Adam Elhiraika, Director, Macroeconomics and Governance Division at the ECA, urged young people to work across borders and contribute to integration of the continent at regional and national levels. “Creating one Africa is the most important step we can take to create better opportunities for all Africans,” he said.“The opportunities we had here is just the beginning for all of you to influence policy makers and influence ideas and actions by youths to help create jobs for Africans. It is a unique opportunity.”One of the highlights of this year’s conference was a session for young African entrepreneurs to share their work and ideas to shape the future of the continent.Fahad Awadh, co-founder of YYTZ Agro-Processing, a Tanzania-based cashew production business, said: “By improving the business environment, we will be able to drive growth and value creation, leading to job creation. It is the youth that will create the jobs that are needed on the continent.”Sobel Aziz Ngom, another young entrepreneur and founder of Social Change Factory in Senegal, commented: “There is no way we can achieve important national results in terms of education and work for young people, if all keys actors do not collaborate and align their investments, programs and practices.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
…says award process needs reviewingChief Executive Officer of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), Lelon Saul on Friday said that there is a conflict of interest regarding the contract awarded to the husband of Housing Minister Valerie Patterson-Yearwood to build houses for the Ministry.Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of a CH&PA event on Friday, Saul pointed out that while the contract was awarded through a competitive bidding process, it still is a conflict of interest.“If the contractor in question is the spouse of the Minister, certainly it would be a conflict of interest,” he posited.The CH&PA Head called for a review of the awarding process so that there is no reoccurrence of such a situation.“The award of contract is above my level. But I think the (CH&PA) Board should review that (awarding process) based on recommendations coming from the agency,” Saul asserted.Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Housing Minister’s husband, Godfrey Yearwood, was awarded a contract to build homes for a project spearheaded by the CH&PA.CH&PA Head Lelon SaulThat project is still ongoing and according to Saul, the contract awarded to the Minister’s husband was a one-off award.When contacted on Thursday for a comment on the matter, which was published in Guyana Times on that day (April 4, 2019), Minister Patterson-Yearwood said she would not give a comment since this newspaper already carried the story without her input.It was explained that several attempts were made to get on to her on Wednesday before the article was published the following day. In fact, the Minister acknowledged seeing the missed calls on Thursday morning but insisted that this publication should have held the article until she was reached to comment on the issue.“I saw some missed calls from Guyana Times when I woke this morning cause my phone was on silent after being in a meeting (almost all day Wednesday)… Despite the fact that Guyana Times didn’t get me to give my comments, I see a headline in the Guyana Times so I will not be commenting on this matter.One day was not too late for y’all to wait to make contact with me and let me give my clarifications before publishing a story… So I’m not going to give any further comments on this because it seems as though it was in a rush to make the Minister look bad so one day (wait) would’ve been too late,” Patterson-Yearwood insisted. Nevertheless, Minister Patterson-Yearwood has since explained to other news outlets that the contract was awarded to her husband prior to their August 2017 marriage and was done without her knowledge.This issue came to the fore on Wednesday when Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo disclosed that the Minister’s husband had sub-contracted the works and the person whom he hired is complaining of not being paid for works done to date. In fact, the construction worker, a resident of Victoria Village from the East Coast of Demerara, had written President David Granger four times over the past year for his intervention but only got acknowledgement responses so far.According to the CH&PA Head, he is aware of the issue.“A complaint was lodged at the Ministry, I think it was sometime last year, and we would have called in both parties and we advised them to settle the issue,” Saul told reporters on Friday.