Sharm El Sheikh, 8 December 2018
Thank you very much. Let me start my comments by thanking President Sisi — my friend, my brother — for convening this gathering and for inviting us to share views and experiences about how we can build a better future for our whole continent.
I also thank the Heads of State, your excellencies who are here present, for the different contributions you make, not only for the people in your countries but for the whole continent. Also, the business leaders who are part of this audience, men and women, who we are discussing with today.
It is absolutely important to be having this discussion, which is neither the first nor should it be the last. We are talking about young people, who are the asset of our countries and our continent. We are talking about entrepreneurship, innovation, and different issues around trade and business.
But it is important indeed that we contextualize what we are talking about and give it the actual importance that it deserves. It all comes through when we get together and understand our problems and what we need to do, what our responsibilities are. That is a responsibility of leaders, and also of individuals for their own lives and the collective well-being of everyone on our continent.
So the young people we are talking about, men and women, are the population that, as the moderator rightly said, is today 1.2 billion Africans, and in the near future, by 2050, it will be double that. We need to first of all view it not as a threat. When you talk about 2.5 billion people on our continent in 2050, it is not a threat. It is an opportunity, an advantage, a strength.
But that won’t just happen unless we make the right investments in our young people who have the advantage of age and strength, and the skills that come with that. But they need facilitation for us to be where we want to be. That requires both organization and everyone’s input, given the skills they have acquired or other experiences.
So it is absolutely important that we are talking about the future of our continent, and that includes everyone: the billions of people who will inhabit this continent in the years to come. I thank you.