Young people must be center of U.S. Africa policy

Global Public Square

By Zeenat Rahman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Zeenat Rahman serves as Special Adviser to the U.S Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues. You can follow her @zeenat. The views expressed are her own.

President Barack Obama’s just-concluded trip to Africa was focused on some of the issues you might expect from any presidential trip overseas: strengthening democracy, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security. But with Africa’s emergence as a growing economic power, the president employed a strategy on his visits to Senegal, Tanzania, and South Africa that also seemed to recognize something that sets Africa policy apart – the need to engage with young leaders.

It is essential that we connect with – and invest in – the next generation of African leaders, and here’s why: on a continent of 1 billion people, more than 60 percent are under the age of 35. By 2050…

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After 2015, then what? Africa in a post-MDGs era



In view of the under-achievement record of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), global policy makers have set out on a search for a more veritable replacement ahead of its 2015 expiration date. Designed in 2000 by developed countries on behalf of developing countries, the MDGs were collectively promoted as a near-final solution to the development quagmire that drowns a section of the globe. With most African countries at the bottom of the development ranking, the region’s leaders were all too eager to sign on to the MDGs. Across Africa, government representatives were quick to utter the initially unfamiliar acronym, especially in the hearing of donors.  After all, the donors were the ones who set the MDGs, the ones who wanted to spend their money on accomplishing these goals, and the ones who sent their monitoring and implementation team to Africa for follow-up.  And in that mindset lay perhaps the greatest…

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