Press Releases


ECOWAS and Its Partners Challenge the Youth in the Region on Using Digital Technology for Economic Growth, Peace and Stability.

06 Jun, 2024

Through the digital innovation, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its partners are preparing the youth to take ownership of opportunities that abound for self-development, empowerment and contribute positively to the overall development of the region.

This was made known at the Youth-Voices-for-Change-Forum which began on the 5th of June 2024 in Accra, Ghana. The forum seeks to galvanise youth energies through digital innovations to address known regional challenges of unemployment, irregular migration, insecurity, educational gaps, healthcare ills, poverty, criminality, poor governance, mis-/disinformation and violent extremism, among others.

Declaring the forum open, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musa stated that to transform the region’s youth into creative and responsive leaders, more investments are needed in science and technology, education and vocational training while involving them in policy discussions and decision-making processes, because their fresh and innovative insights can lead to better outcomes.

Represented by the Director, ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre and Ag Resident Representative in Burkina Faso Amb Francis Njoaguani, Commissioner Musa also highlighted the promotion of entrepreneurship through the provision of mentorship, access to capital, and a supportive ecosystem, including coaching young people in financial literacy so they can empower them to manage money wisely and invest in their future.

West Africa’s youth bulge has been a source of concern to peace-building stakeholders with 64 percent of the region’s population under 24 years of age. Commissioner Musa drew attention to the need to ensure that the region’s youth have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies through a reminder of a quote by the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, the late Kofi Anan, who once said:  “Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If however, they are left on society margins, all of us will be impoverished.”

Welcoming participants to the forum, the ECOWAS Resident Representative in Ghana Amb Baba Gana Wakil noted that the expectations of a more positively innovative youths are quite high while concrete actions are now needed to walk the talk of inclusivity.

The partners also gave their goodwill messages. In her remark, the Deputy Office Director, of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) West Africa, Ina Pislaru stressed the need for a shared vision and people-centred approach to sustainable, the harnessing of the energy and creativity of youth, while providing them with the platforms, resources, and supportive policies needed to participate fully in governance and decision-making processes;  in recognition of the fact that the youthful demography of the region is a powerful asset – a force that can trigger widespread socio-economic transformation and political stability.

On her part, the Deputy Executive Director of the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) Mrs. Levina Addae-Mensah described the Network’s collaboration with ECOWAS to elevate the youth, as something that makes it a partner in prime. Noting that the forum’s theme speaks loudly to the core of our collective aspirations, she urged participants to seize the opportunity to engage fully for the good of the region.

The Political Affairs Director of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Mr. Moudjib Djinadou, underlined the importance of the role of youth in peacebuilding while stressing that it was now high time to fully use digital technology to improve trade in the region. This position was also corroborated by Dr. Daniel Bonsu of the Ghanaian Ministry of National Security who expressed his elatedness about the proactive counterterrorism steps being taking by ECOWAS.

The forum is holding with the active support and collaboration with ECOWAS’ partners -the United States Agency for International Development (USAID- with the framework of the Strengthening Regional Peace and Stability Program (SRPS), West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), through the Just Future Alliance, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

The 2024 Youth Voices for Change forum seeks to build on the successes recorded by the 2022 edition which among others, proposed possible solutions to critical youth issues affecting the region. The forum’s goals are in tandem with the key priorities of the ECOWAS Vision 2050 as well as the relevant portions of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 Aspirations.

Member States