Following the holding of the regional caucuses of UCLG Africa for the regions of Central Africa and North Africa respectively in Libreville, Gabon, on 25 and 26 October 2021 and in Luxor, Egypt, on 1 and 2 November 2021, and with a view to mobilizing young local elected officials for Africities Summit scheduled to take place in Kisumu, Kenya, from 17 to 21 May 2022, the General Secretariat of UCLG Africa organized two virtual meetings of the young elected officials of the YELO network.
These meetings held on 22 November 2021 (North Africa) and 15 December 2021 (Central Africa) aimed to address in each region, issues related to the establishment of national chapters of YELO, and also some aspects of territorial governance, including the challenges faced by young people in general and by young elected officials in particular.
In North Africa as well as in Central Africa, youth seem to have a prominent position in the constitutions. In Gabon, Cameroon, Tunisia and Mauritania, young people are political actors as soon as they reach the age of majority, which is frequently set at 18. On the other hand, their selection for access to the political world as well as to positions of responsibility within political bodies depends on the political parties.
As pointed out by Mrs. Ibticem Aitalllah of the Municipality of Sfax, in Tunisia, young elected officials most often hold responsibilities at the head of relatively important commissions in communal councils. This reality reflects a lack of confidence of the political class in youth, hence the need for a paradigm shift. The representatives of Mauritania, through the voice of Sidi Ahmed Mohamed El Hadrami, from the Commune of Teyaret, proposed an upgrade by law, in order to force political parties to put forward young candidates on electoral lists.
The young local elected officials from Central Africa, particularly those from Gabon and Cameroon, called for the demystification of politics in order to make it more accessible to ordinary citizens. During these meetings, the young people insisted several times on the financial conditions of their participation in electoral events which remain, in many African countries, too high to allow an optimal participation of young people in politics.
On the issue of the establishment of national chapters of YELO in each region, Gabon through the representatives of Libreville and Port-Gentil, and the representatives of Nouakchott have committed to begin the process of implementing the network. These national chapters will help structure the contribution of youth in politics and local development. This network will make it possible to propose training and awareness-raising actions for the benefit of young people, and will make it possible to build, with the associations of young elected officials, an advocacy for the attention of political parties.
For the Africities summit, the young elected officials of North Africa have proposed some session themes, including
– Waste management
– Digitalization of municipal services (job creation for youth)
– Neighborhood outreach and new housing programs,
– Youth entrepreneurship
– The creation of spaces dedicated to youth (cultural, sports, etc.)