President Muhammadu Buhari and President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday in Abuja inaugurated the Nigeria-South Africa Youth Dialogue for Peace and Security, Youth Development and Political Participation.
Speaking to the youth virtually, Buhari expressed optimism that the establishment of the youth dialogue would promote peace-building and development as well as help both countries jointly combat youth restiveness.
The Nigerian leader also noted that the dialogue would enable the two countries to strategically develop a vast world of collaboration in areas of science and technology, including climate change, energy demands, green technology, artificial intelligence, cyber security, telematics, agriculture, technology and much more.
According to him, Nigeria and South Africa have a combined population of about 262 million, of which 95 million are youth.
“This represents tremendous potential for both countries if we can truly harness this demographic with more dedicated action.
“This sizable youth population may also represent significant problems, if we fail to maximize their potential in a world that globalization and technology are reshaping at breakneck speed.
“These are the rationale for proposing this youth dialogue.
“Both countries need more educated youth, more skilled youth, more youth in entrepreneurship, more solution providers and peace-keepers and more patriotic youth.
“It is true that our youth already collaborate, especially in the creative arts, sharing our rich cultures.
“We will build upon this, especially in the framework of the intra-African trade expansion we intend to promote through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA),” he said.
The Nigerian leader expressed confidence that collaborations in science and technology and many other areas, in a strategic and committed way, would provide both countries with solutions and critical intellectual property to unleash economic outcomes for millions of job creations.
“I must urge our youth to see themselves as brothers and sisters with a lot to share and explore together, not as foes.
“Even when Bafana Bafana and the Super Eagles compete, it must be as friendly rivals,’’ he said.
Buhari described the inauguration of the Steering Committee on the Youth Dialogue during the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission as a great leap forward.
“It will aim to jointly combat the restiveness of our youth, exchange ideas/opportunities and reduce friction amongst them,’’ he said.
According to him, the areas of cooperation under the youth dialogue will include exchange programmes on notable national, international and historic events.
These include national youth service initiatives, sharing of best practices on national youth legislation, policy frameworks and guidelines as well as youth entrepreneurial development and support.
Other areas of cooperation are market development and export marketing for youth; partnership in youth development in the following sectors: mineral resources, environment, forests and woodlands and waste management value chains.
In the agreement establishing the youth dialogue, exchange of information on technologies, research and development programmes and experts as well as providing assistance in the areas of accessibility, availability and affordability of mobility aids featured prominently.
The steering committee is expected to come up with the roadmap for the actualisation of the youth dialogue.