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‘Innovation and youth development critical for Africa’s development’

Story by Abigirl Tembo

AFRICAN ministers who are in Turkey for the Antalya Diplomacy Forum have stressed the importance of equipping young people with skills for job creation and innovation.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Dr. Frederick Shava, who is representing President Emmerson Mnangagwa participated in a panel discussion titled “Realising Africa’s Potential” at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey.

Ambassador Shava highlighted the country’s new school-based projects aimed at transforming education and fostering innovation among young people.

“In the past, people were educated in order to just work and facilitate the means of production that were existing at that time. But right now we have to educate young men and women in order to innovate, in order to create employment, in order to ensure that their education can be used for the betterment of the population. In other words, in our own situation, we have universities. We had one university at independence, the University of then Rhodesia, and yes, we now have 21 universities in the country. But the main feature in these universities is to orient the youngsters into education with production and orient them to be educated in order to be creative, to be innovative,” he said.

Ambassador Shava added, “As result, we have now created in our situation, what we call innovation hubs at the universities. In these innovation hubs, we allow the young boys and girls to dream, to dream about what they can create, what they can cause to happen, whatever innovations they can make, and when they’ve dreamt enough. We go a step further and we send them into innovation parks when they get to the interview. In innovation parks they must now produce, and not just for the country. They must produce for industry and commerce.”

“They must produce items which can be exported so that we can embark on export of whatever products that they produce for the betterment of the country. And I just want to give one very interesting example which happened during the COVID era. We had a problem in the COVID era of oxygen and we put together some young professors, lecturers at universities and said we have this problem, which needs a solution so that we can attend to patients who are COVID infected and provide them with oxygen. So we could not produce, we could not source enough oxygen. They spent a lot of time and they produced a scheme and built a factory which then produced oxygen and this oxygen, the beauty of it is that the factory that they built now produces oxygen of higher quality than the oxygen we used to buy. For the requirements of Zimbabwe, it’s only two days production. So for the 28 days of the month we can now produce oxygen for use by our neighbours if they want it, and for use by others who may want to buy it from us. So it’s extremely important to measure our steps as we go to the middle income status in 2030,” he went on.

Mozambique’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Verónica Macamo, emphasised the importance of supporting youth and fostering entrepreneurship in Africa.

“For the sake of the future of our country, we have to support our youth so that they can provide for one another, they can provide for their families, they’ll be self-sufficient. This can only happen for investment, technology, and building capacity. We need to have access to markets and have construction needs as well. But also we have to support the farmers in their agricultural activities. And we have to develop our production capabilities too. So yes, the potential in Africa is huge, but we need improvement and we have to overcome terrorism. We have to stop wars because like I said, when there is war, everything goes upside down,” said the Minister.

The Antalya Diplomacy Forum held from the 1st to the 3rd of March is a platform for dialogue on crucial global issues.

This year’s theme is, “Advancing Diplomacy in Times of Turmoil.”

Zimbabwe’s participation reflects its commitment to collaborative efforts towards a more peaceful and prosperous Africa.

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