Seventy-one youths have completed a month-long training on various aspects of agricultural production at the Songhai Centre in Porto Novo, the political capital of Benin, as part of an ECOWAS capacity building programme to encourage and empower Community youth for self employment.
The training was organized by the Ouagadougou-based ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, in collaboration with the Songhai Centre, one of the regional centres of excellence recognized by ECOWAS for youth development.
The training for which 287 youths, comprising 167 male and 120 females, have benefited was launched five years ago as an experimental programme with 15 trainees from the 15 ECOWAS Member States to enable youths contribute to regional food security. Its success encouraged ECOWAS to sponsor six trainees from each of the 12 participating countries for the fifth edition.
At the closing ceremony for the training, the Director of the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, Mr. Francis Chuks Njoaguani, charged the participants to optimize the benefit of the training in order to realize a future of their dream.
Citing depressing statistics from the International Labour organization (ILO), the director noted that some 72 per cent of young people live on less than an average of two US dollars a day ; constitute about 60 per cent of the jobless population, mostly disadvantaged youth from countries coming out of crises and young ladies.
In response to these challenges, Mr. Njoaguani said ECOWAS was taking concrete steps to address youth issues and pledged the institution’s commitment to improve the lives of young people.
He assured that ECOWAS would follow up on the individual progress of the graduands in their respective Member States as part of the process of evaluating the programme and urged the beneficiaries to send in their evaluations in order to enrich the training.
In his remarks, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Benin, Mr. Martin Alowanou Lougbegnon, stated that the youth constitute a critical segment of the ECOWAS population as the most active.
While noting that the training was to enable the youth take charge of their social, professional and economic integration as well as improve their well-being, Mr. Lougbegnon stated that the Songhai training was part of the strategy to ensure their participation in the construction of the ECOWAS Community and inculcate in them an entrepreneurial spirit.
The Head of the Economics Department of the Songhai Centre, Mr. Guy Loueke, also exhorted the beneficiaries to justify their training and become role models for other young people in the region.
The youths through their representatives, Mr. Diohou Achille of Benin (Francophone), Miss Sebastiao Bangazui of Guinea Bissau (Lusophone) and Mr. Abdulsalam Sulaiman of Nigeria (Anglophone), assured ECOWAS and other stakeholders of their readiness to succeed and make the region proud of their investment in youths.
ABUJA, Nigeria, September 23, 2011
source : Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)
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