Ahead of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, four promising Ethiopian young leaders met in Johannesburg with their African counterparts to discuss politics and the role of the youth on the continent. After their return we asked Mr. Kibreab Abera, Mr. Brook Makonnen, Ms. Rahel Tamirate and Mr. Elias Meseret to share some of their impressions.

What was the purpose of the conference in South Africa?

The Annual African Youth Conference on social Justice and Democracy aimed at creating African youth who will be networked by their own initiative to achieve a common goal in the continent. The organizers of the program has clearly communicated that there is no major formal procedure where by, anyone with ideas was welcomed to stand on a podium which promoted “free speech” and make free speech from the experience and knowledge they had. There were different topics raised and discussed in relation to:

  • Environment
  • Economic Development and Finance
  • Global Economic Governance
  • Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture
  • African Migration
  • Peoples disconnect and way to fix it

All these topics have been perspective changing for some of us by which we started to realize things from different dimension.

You met various young leaders from other countries in Johannesburg. Could you name something you have in common?

During my stay, I have come to know youth leaders from different parts of Africa with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds. I have seen eloquent speech makers, visionaries, hardworking, eager to learn other cultures, patriotic heart to decolonize minds as well as views and sociable youngsters.

The common characteristics I have seen was optimism about the continent’s future and the need for change (a solution that needs to come from Africans through African ways and thoughts)


(c) Deutsche Welle 2017

After the G20 meeting in Hamburg: How do you assess Africa’s role in the G20?

Frankly iterating, I am quite disappointed, but at the same time, not surprised to hear little about Africa during and after G20 summit. Discussion on unified climate policy, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and measures to combat terrorism had been so high up in the agenda that there is essentially no interest group to take the topic on the Compact with Africa (CWA). The irony keeps continuing with the compact being fully coordinated by G20 finance ministers and discussed among select African countries after it had been completed. In my view, neither South Africa nor the African Union played a pivotal role in Africa’s stake in the G20.

How do you see the involvement of the youth in political decision making in Africa?

The youth is critical and knowledgeable, although not given the chance to work alongside those on top nor get the chance to be heard. Regardless of the systematic exclusion from important issues, however, the youth engages in various activities to be part of the solution to African problems. Hence, the youth needs consideration, equality, respect and better access to information so as to be a beacon of hope for Africa.

How do you plan to use your insights in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia?

As a media practitioner, I aim to deploy the knowledge that I have acquired in Jo’burg in a number of ways. I’m definitely going to put up some pieces for the media agencies I write for regarding Africa’s stakes at the G20 and about social justice issues across the continent. Besides, I also plan to spread the word about the concepts that we grasped in South Africa though word of mouth and speaking up at appropriate meetings.

Further resources:

Deutsche Welle, 03.07.2017

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Johannesburg, 07.07.2017

Youth County Projects Kenya, 17.07.2017