Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita lauded King Mohammed VI’s unifying, pragmatic, and benevolent leadership during his opening speech at the eighth African Students & Youth Summit.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita launched the eighth annual African Students & Youth Summit Friday, December 20, in Rabat.
The four-day event aims to enable young Africans to propose new recommendations and initiatives to develop the African continent, according to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The event brings over 1,000 participants of 70 nationalities to a collaboration space designed for networking, cultural exchange, and innovation.
The eighth African Students & Youth Summit will also host the launch of “Maroc-Alumni,” a digital platform initiated by the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The platform offers an interactive space where students can exchange ideas and benefit from valuable services.
Africa should invest in youth
Bourita received the foreign ministers of Mauritania, Ghana, Guinea, Gambia, and the Comoros Friday morning at the International University City in Rabat (CUI). The ministers went on to deliver speeches during the event’s opening ceremony.
In his opening speech, Bourita welcomed the African foreign ministers as well as the participating student associations and other attendees to the summit.
Bourita described the summit’s ability to mobilize African students and youth before lauding King Mohammed VI’s unifying, pragmatic, and benevolent leadership.
The Moroccan foreign minister quoted King Mohammed VI’s speech from the 29th African Union summit to underscore Morocco’s commitment to Africa and its youth.
“The future of Africa depends on its youth,” the sovereign stated in August 2017 in a message delivered by his brother in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “Today, nearly 600 million Africans are young people. In 2050, 400 million Africans will be between 15 and 24 years old.”
Africa’s young population “underlines the urgency of orienting the demographic dividend towards the emergence of the continent,” the King’s speech continued. “Africa, therefore, has an unexpected opportunity to benefit from a young, educated, and abundant workforce to fuel its economic growth.”
Bourita went on to describe Morocco’s role in training tens of thousands of students from 47 African countries since King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne in 1999.
He added that more than 5,000 public sector executives in various African countries have benefited from Moroccan training.
“Youth training represents a priority area of South-South cooperation,” the Moroccan minister stated, explaining that the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI) oversees youth training programs.
“[AMCI] is a united and active cooperation oriented towards youth and based on the sharing of experience in sectors [relevant] to [African labor market needs].”
African talent should stay in Africa
Bourita shifted his speech to address the summit’s young participants directly.
He began by recalling another key statement from King Mohammed VI at the 29th African Union Summit:
“It is not acceptable that … the best African talents are the object of European lusts, in defiance of the investment of their country of origin in terms of training,” King Mohammed VI remarked during his speech at the summit.
“You are these talents,” Bourita said to the audience of African students and youth. “There is no better destination for African talent than their own continent.”
Bourita expressed that the Kingdom of Morocco wants Africa’s youth to have confidence in their future while still considering the pressing challenges faced by the continent and its people.
“The emergence of our [continent] is in your hands,” he declared. “You have the opportunity to rethink African development in a more innovative, more creative, younger way.”
Education, training, employment
In accordance with Morocco’s royal vision, “education must be guaranteed, training must be accelerated, and jobs must be created,” Bourita asserted.
“Africa cannot be seen as a mere pool of opportunities,” he continued. “Africa needs to create and seize its own opportunities and generate its own wealth.”
The Moroccan minister explained that in order to seize opportunities, Africa must invest in its entrepreneurs with joint efforts from the public and private sectors, along with the banking and financial sectors.
He also encouraged greater access to finance for start-ups.
“Access to finance should not be used as an instrument of obstruction,” he said. “If talent is universal, its realization is not. We must help it to hatch, support it, enhance it and empower it.”
He went on to state that youth must have greater access to decision-making and civic participation.
The Moroccan minister concluded his speech by communicating Morocco’s hope for the future of African youth.
“The wish of Morocco is that African talents are never used … to swell the ranks of disenchanted and vulnerable targets of all extremism.”
“I hope that this 8th edition of the Students and Youth Summit of Africa will be an opportunity to reflect, exchange and involve both young students, researchers and decision-makers from the public and private sectors in order to deepen the debates and bring out strong recommendations,” he said of the summit.
He concluded, saying, “I wish you every success in your work. Long live African youth, long live Africa.”
The summit was organized under the patronage of King Mohammed VI.