Over 60 particpants from 12 African countries converged in Livingstone, Zambia for a high level youth consultative conference.

The conference is a first of series of discussions that will be held in all the regions of Africa with the intention of designing a process and developing Strategies that promote regional collaboration for youth empowerment particularly in promoting the One Stop Youth Center Model across Africa through the engagement of the Regional Economic Forums.

The conference, held jointly by UN-Habitat and the Commonwealth saw youth and representatives of governments, United Nations Agencies, regional economic forums, and international organizations share best practices and lessons learnt on the development and management of Youth Resource Centers to support youth empowerment in Africa.

It drew participants from countries including Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

It was opened by Dr. Hamid el- Bashir the UNICEF Country Representative, and the United Nations Resident Representative, Zambia. Also in attendance were Mr. Mathias Spaliviero representing UN-Habitat, Mr. Victor Mensah representing the Commonwealth, Ms. Perpetua Miganda, the Principal Gender and Community Development Officer, East Africa Community,Mr. Timothy Gakuu, Director of Youth Affairs, Kenya and Mr. Nuhu Bulu Zoaka, Director of Youth, Nigeria Federal Ministry of Youth Affairs and Mr John Suzyo Banda, representing International Labout Organization. Dr. Hamidel-Bashir, thanked UN-Habitat and the Commonwealth for organizing the conference. Mr. Hamid highlighted some the initiatives being undertaken by the UN in Zambia under the Delivering as One initiative which includes youth empowerment programmes to address the many challenges faced by young people.

On his part, Mr.Spalivi eronoted that Africa is confronted with two factors that are evolving according to two parallel trends “youth and urbanization” which are all growing at increasing rate with young people increasingly concentrating mainly in cities and towns.

In addition to its policy advisory work, UN-Habitat has been implementing pilot projects in East Africa which included the One Stop Youth Centers Model, he said. In his closing remarks, Mr.Chishimba Kambwili, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Zambia stated that the youth bulge witnessed globally, presents an opportunity for countries to review their social and economic status.