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Leaders must influence others in order to achieve goals, and they must gain the respect of followers in order to influence them. This is no easy task, but if you want to have the respect of your followers and become an influential leader, these simple rules will help you whether you are just beginning your leadership journey or have been leading for many years.

1. Find your style and inspire

One of the most important things you can do as a leader is cultivate self-awareness. Knowing your leadership style will help you to be more intentional about using it well and managing its shortcomings. Do you lead with expertise? Charisma? Caring? Armed with this awareness, you can leverage your unique style to become more influential and inspire others.

2. Demonstrate integrity

Nothing can ruin your influence and respect faster than a lack of integrity. Integrity, however, is not just avoiding unethical choices and situations.Integrity is intentionally molding a culture of values and service.

3. Finish your homework

As a leader, the more you know about what you are getting into, the more prepared you are to address it well. This could be hard data like market research, competitive analysis, and customer satisfaction trends, or informal research that comes from asking around. Leaders get informed and stay informed.

4. Invest in yourself

Leaders invest in learning. Grow your expertise. Get certified. Cross train.The more you know, the more you can help. The greater your competence, the more others will respect you and the effort you made to learn about what they do.

5. Manage your brand

Leaders understand the importance of perception. Ensure that your strengths are not being perceived negatively by asking for feedback, engaging in 360 assessments, and communicating proactively what you intend to accomplish with a particular action or question.

6. Concentrate on the future

A leader’s job is to interact with the future on behalf of constituents.Spend time doing things that only you can do, delegating other important areas to competent team members. Establish a vision, and keep your gaze focused on the overall goal. Resist the temptation to spend too much time solving day to day problems if they are costing you progress toward your vision.

7. Understand people personally

Great leaders get to know their people. What are their hobbies? What are their kids’ names? What are they good at? What motivates them? Demonstrate a genuine interest in people. Care about them. Create a culture where people feel supported personally, not just professionally.

8. Position people professionally

By understanding their people, leaders are better equipped to help them be successful. Put them in places that will foster professional growth and help them achieve their career goals. When people succeed in their careers and enjoy the jobs they are doing, the organization benefits in turn.

9. Praise liberally

When people do a good job, make sure they know it. Some will want an email, others an announcement in a meeting, still others a monetary reward. Whatever the case, if it lies within your power, grant it. There is no such thing as too much sincere appreciation for a job well done.

10. Coach and advocate

Help people. Be a resource, a sounding board, a safe place to talk. If you want the people you lead to respect you, they need to know you are on their side. Advocate for them; help them get the promotion they’ve been hoping for. Leverage your influence on their behalf.

11. Forge partnerships

Self-aware leaders understand the folly of trying to be all things to all people. It is impossible to be an expert in everything. Instead, surround yourself with people who possess qualities you lack. If you lack detail orientation, bring in someone who is organized. If you forget to ask for input at meetings, ask someone who is more naturally inclusive to bring it up.

12. Ask before telling

Leaders listen. Don’t assume you know the answer to a question you haven’t asked. Inform your perspective with the input of others. Invite skepticism. Only after this vetting process can you be certain you have made the right assignments or decision.

13. Anticipate and optimize

Always think ahead. Ask yourself: “What could go wrong here?” “What if the market changes?” “Is there anything else we can do to make success more likely?” These questions help leaders create the best possible plan. Once executed, be sure to revisit, using the feedback you gain to optimize and tweak where necessary.

14. Take risks

Without risk, no reward exists. Leaders take risks, but before they do, they minimize them by soliciting information and perspectives. After that, they move forward courageously, trusting themselves and their people.

15. Expect greatness

Never settle. Leaders persist toward perfection. They remain steadfast in the belief that our best days are ahead of us, and work toward making that true. Paint the picture of what it will look like when we get there.

Inspire and become an influential leader—respect will come.

By: Joseph M D Johnson
We say in our LIB slang, ‘ehn you say you fine, day will bray!’
Kwame Nkrumah asserted, “If Africa’s multiple resources were used in her own development, they could put her among the modernized continents of the world. But her resources have been, and are still being used for the greater development of overseas interests.”

This article is not for everyone!I wrote it for a particular group of people being called ‘Liberian youth’-those who have a chance to make a positive change in Liberia. I am not excluded. We were the vast majority of those affected by the war, a large number of those who now feel alienated, frustrated and most considered as vulnerable. If you are not part of this group of people, I share in your emotions to make untamed comments. I understand. I cannot stop you from being provoked! According to Liberia’s NYP 2005, “The youth population aged between 15 and 24 comprises a significant percentage of the population, with those under the age of 15 averaging over 40%.”

At the moment, I am part of this youth population. I was 8 years old when I became a refugee. The hustle started at this tender age yet I was always smiling. I lived with poverty and smelled death. I remembered I was left alone in the bush for almost a year without any family members around. The thing called school was very far from me. I had no sign of hope but I was still smiling. Night tears kept me sad. I was lost in the care of fear. But today, I have a passion to advocate with an aggressive approach to youth issues as a key priority for Liberia and have been conferred the Title: PEACE AMBASSADOR for United Nation Youth Association, recently.  This cause of advocacy is strongly established on patriotisms, discipline, and being pragmatic about developmental issues by being focus and influencing government policies.

I’m not happy! It’s about Liberia. I just read the story: “LAWMAKER CHALLENGES ELLEN TO PUBLISH BUDGET,” being published by Alva M. Wolokolie. It is creating lots of questions in my mind at the moment. Alva wrote that, “The President’s statement came as a result of the lawmakers allotting unto themselves in the just passed National Budget US$30,000 each to purchase utility pick-ups for their operations.” Add to this, “lawmaker disclosed that a total of US$3m is allotted to the President as traveling expenses.”

Do you know what I think? Who cares about what I think? We have more work to do as Liberian youth! Can’t say much about political issues now! But let think about our people at the grass root level of the country. What can we do to help them? What can we contribute individually and collectively to their development? Most of you have read the facts. To help you think for a change in Liberia, here are the facts ( “Liberia has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. Illiteracy rate is about 80%. With an estimated population of 4 million, this means that 4 out of 5 persons cannot read or write.”

“The cost of education is still relatively cheap in Liberia. Based on recent research and studies, the cost of full tuition in most high schools is about $100 which averages out to be $9 per month. However due the 85% unemployment rate in Liberia, most parents or families cannot afford to send their children to school as the average Liberian family earns less than $1 US a day.” Think about this: Are you part of the 80% of illiterate Liberians? I know your response. I can see the expression on your face. It is ‘NO.’ You are not among the estimated population who cannot read or write. Do not ask me why. You already know why. You laugh when you hear our LIB slang, “degree holder, you know book your country dirty?” Once you are interested in reading this article, you are considered one of Facebook’s 350 million active users who update their status each day (“Facebook Statistics.” Accessed: December 18, 2009). In fact, you have a good income, have weekend chilling moments with friends and love ones. You recharge your phone with money anytime you want to make a call and food is neither one of your challenge.

At the moment, we can’t criticize but encourage. We cannot depend on the older generation anymore! They have and are failing us! Let us love our country and pursue education. I like how Lord Henry Brougham puts it when he said, “Education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but difficult to enslave.”

As a young Pan-Africanist, I have come to reason that a country progresses when majority of the citizens are educated; the country advances if the people stop talking and start working! The country develop if the people start investing their time, idea and resource in community businesses, programs and projects. They become great if the people of the land respect and put their country first in unity, far above tribal and personal desires.

Recently I wrote this abstract in my diary from the Liberian National Youth Policy (Positioning the Youth in Post-Conflict Recovery and Reconstruction, December 2005):The 19th President of Liberia, William Richard Tolbert, once remarked that the youth are the “precious jewels” of the nation. Perhaps one of the realizations dawning the late president’s mind was that the youths are the indispensable asset of the nation or the index finger pointing to the future progress and continuity of the state. If their growth and development process is obtuse or obscure, it reflects the function of the generic malaise of that nation. Each nation will prioritize the welfare of its youth consistent with its spiritual and moral ethos.”

The first step is to stop depending on government and start identifying educational opportunities. Don’t ask me how. Ask yourself why. Once you know ‘why’ you will act and know ‘how.’ Keep at the back of your mind that ‘Liberia’ is our life, our heart, our love and our world! Follow your dream and be good at what you do. Master your skills and develop your talent. Learn. Keep learning and don’t stop. Run from political issues until your mind have been empowered to effect change. These are the secrets to national development. Listen to Bill Clinton, “Politics is for people who are too ugly to get into showbusiness.”

The Bible insisted in Psalm 19:28: “For thou LORD will light the candle of [Liberia]. The LORD God will enlighten our darkness.” I believe Liberia has now reached to a place where eyes are focused on the youth. We must go the way to a new birth or go the way of death. The choices are up to me and you. Should we continue to let political leaders take advantage of our right to freedom and pursuit of our happiness? According to one of my favorite African poetsI met back in Nigeria during my training with the AU, AkpeziOgbuigwi, in her book ‘Africa Birth Pangs of a New Day, wrote:

“And let the world’s men and women of honor and integrity arise against such and their institutions.

For the oppressed are held ransom by the oppressors

Who have unjustly manipulated international and financial laws

Shackling innocent children and unborn generations to debts they know nothing of

Debts that have found their way back to the countries of origin.”

How To Be An Agent Of Change As A Liberian Youth?

  1. Manage Your Emotions: No one feels comfortable around an angry young man or woman. It is very important to manage your emotions. See things from a more positive view about your country and try to relax. How you feel towards helping to solve a problem matters.
  2. Manage Your Time: You cannot make any change if you are wasting your time every day talking and not impacting lives. Find a way to learn one new thing every day. Develop your talent into skills. Time is valuable. Instead of thinking about what to buy with your money, start thinking about developmental projects and business ideas that will benefit you and the people of Liberia.
  3. Manage Your Priorities: The last time I took a week to ask some young Liberians some simple questions like, “Who do you wanna to be in the future?… What is your plan for Liberia? What do you want from life?” I was shocked! Most of them know a lot about things but know nothing about themselves and has no plan for their future. This included their country. Set your priorities right and focus on them. The old proverb is true,“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”
  4. Manage Your Energy: Liberians are disreputably noted to be people who love pleasure. You know this culture is true. We love to focus our energy on pleasure and not purpose. We do things that don’t seem to matter. You can only help change Liberia if you are able to do things that really matter. You need to reduce your ‘free time’ and focus on your ‘work time.’
  5. Manage Your Thinking: I love to develop my mind by reading because it is the treasure of my life. I have developed a habit to think about things that are developmental. I encourage you to think for a change. Find time during the day to think. You will find it valuable and your life will progress.
  6. Manage Your Words: Do you know that every month in Liberia we have a new LIB slang? In fact, if you do not manage your words well, ‘you will stay long inside.’ You have to manage your words as a Liberian youth. When you speak, let people feel the weight of your words. Words can make or mars your life. Words can bring respect. Make your words count. Listen and think before your speak. Be a young man or woman that will speak words that will bring about positive change to your country.

Liberian youth, our days are running, generations are awaiting our success, Don’t sit there. Do something positive everyday!

By Joseph M D Johnson | Marketing 2013’

DAFI Students at GIMPA are always on the outlook in prioritizing academic Excellency. Learning is not only limited to education for DAFI students at GIMPA. Learning transcend acquiring knowledge of diverse subjects of our careers, modifying our behaviors in a new environment, expanding our skills, values and at times involve synthesizing different types of information towards a brighter future.

The intent of these “7 Smart Learning Tips” is to provide our readers with insight into how we as DAFI students at GIMPA significantly strategize towards achieving high academic performance by simply Learning How to Learn.”

‘Today, GIMPA has transformed itself into the leading management development institute in Ghana with a vision of becoming a world class Centre of Excellence for training in Leadership, Management and Administration, Policy Analysis, Consultancy and Research, Distance Learning, Gender and Development programmes.’ DAFI students at GIMPA reflect a significant share of this transformation.  The key to GIMPA’s success over the years has been consistency of purpose, having students to understand and apply what they have been thought.

However, our focus is to help provide our readers with smart tips to excel in their careers, increase academic performance and personal success. The question is: Are you a slow learner? Do you want to improve your learning skills? Are you looking for the best solution to a learning problem?

Strategy One: At GIMPA We Prepare To Learn. The first step to learn is to prepare. To use your memory effectively you have to prepare yourself mentally. In fact, with learning any skill, your intention, attitude, and motivation are fundamental to success. Learning preparation must include your ability to have the right tools, face challenges, have study environment, handle health and stress and time management. They are fundamental and are worth all the time you can put into them!

William A. Ward Quote: “Recipe for success: Study while others are sleeping; work while others are looking; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”

Strategy Two: At GIMPA We Explore How We Learn Best. Always bear in mind that there is no best way to learn. As a person who seeks knowledge, you learn by building on the knowledge you already have. 70% of a lifelong learner’s knowledge is thought by himself/herself. We take into high esteem how our DAFI finance student, Andra Flora Grant always talked about paying attention to her lecturer as teaching goes on. Andra learn by listening. It is important to understand and maximize your learning potential, explore how you learn best, and use this knowledge to your advantage. And the best way out is to discover your learning style. Are you a reader, a Listener, or a Doer? There must be an inventory that can categorize how you learn best.
Mark Victor Hensen Quote: Thought and ideas are the source of all wealth, success, material gain, all great discoveries, inventions and achievement.”

Strategy Three: At GIMPA We Understand How Our Brain Works. Once, Mr. Mike Awuah reflects, “The major tool we need to learn is our mind.” We are convinced that the brain work on principles. So “It is natural to forget then to remember,” and “It takes repeated efforts and exposure to information to learn thoroughly.” Get rid of the habit of studying for a very long time i.e. over 2 – 3 hours without taking a break. Take the advice of Sharon K. ferrtt, “When we perceive information with our senses, important information is processed into short-term memory and eventually into long-term memory. By using memory strategies and techniques, your long-term memory can improve.” In our opinion, the best memory techniques contribute a series of shorter study sessions which is definitely preferable for students or employees who are determine to achieve higher goal.
Abraham Lincoln Quote: “Always remember in mind that our own resolution to succeed is important then any other one thing.”

Strategy Four: At GIMPA We Practice What We Learn. It helps us make good marks in the final exams. As the famous saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” Good learners are those who constantly practices what they learn. I personally admire the young economist, Emmanuel Zeeco Cisco, how he discipline himself to study, write and help teach others what he learn during lectures. This habit have helped him to retained almost 50% of what he learn in class, from speakers and reading. It works!

The motivation of writing this article was inspire form Mr. Mike Awuah when he thought on the theme: “Principles of Learning,” during an inspiration section of the Hud Group monthly youth meeting at the University of Ghana, Legon. When Mr. Awuah esthetically spoke, I jotted in my notebook, “Learners become better at what they practice. Adult learn best through practice and participation. It is good to learn but wiser to review what you learn at least five times a month.

Aristotle Quote: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but habit.”

Strategy Five: At GIMPA We Take Control. DAFI students are 100% responsible for our academic performance. We keep at the back of our minds that learner really value knowledge and information so we are fully responsible to focus, think about it and create new ideas. I previously read, “One of the reasons people may not succeed in school or in their careers is a lack of willingness to make the necessary effort.” You are special –Don’t quit. If success does not come quickly, examine the real reasons for not succeeding. Taking control over things you learn is base on your ability to keep handling failure and focus. You are to discuss what you have learned with someone, teach it to someone, ask question, write it (take action-note), visualize it. Test yourself, use multiple sources, make flash card, etc. Most importantly, talk your problem out, eat well, get plenty of exercise and rest (your health says a lot about you), and create a balance of work and play.
Rob Gilbert Quote: “losers visualize the penalties of failure. Winners visualize the rewards of success.”

Strategy Six: At GIMPA We Team Up To Go Up. Being part of a team or study group is a reflection of who we are and how well we work with others. Team work help! You will be able to ask questions, suggest and understand your lesson and duties. The motivation to attend lectures regularly, participate actively in class room, review study materials frequently and practice what we learn has always better our chance to perform better in the final exams. It may be difficult to be controlled, supervised, or given order. Successful learners change their perception and begin to look at instructors, advisors and supervisors, as part of their learning process. They deserve your tolerance and willingness. Establish your team relationship based on respect; it is possible that most team mate will go extra mile to help you if they know who you are and if you show interest and willingness to apply yourself. Spend your time to gain!
Peter Druckek (Management Theorist) Quote “A worker needs one thing only: Learn how to learn.”

Strategy Seven: At GIMPA We Read Widely. Readers are Learners. Are Learners Readers? Excuses are many. For the past years, Joshua E McKay and Henry J. S. Mah Jr, young economist found it challenging to stick to their books. At the moment, they have perfectly adapted a reading habit. We do not find excuses either, as DAFI students. Rather, we are making proper use of our time by sitting in our hostel rooms reading and writing. We are an example of reading because every word you read in this article is written based on our curiosity to read widely. Reading has given us ideas and improved academic performance. Read novels, classic literature, biographies, and newspapers and get on the Internet. Read other students’ papers or employers’ proposal and exchange papers with your study team. Make use of the 21st century’ books! Reading widely enables learners to be certain or positive of their purpose, goals and objectives. Your skill level, vocabulary, ability to concentrate, handle distractions, and your state of mind all improve your learning ability to recall what you must achieve whenever you read. The more you read the better you become. Andrew Gide (a writer) said, “To read a writer is for me not merely to get an idea of what he says, but to go off with him, and travel in his worm company,”
Nathanael A. Laryea Quote: “Poverty is optional, prosperity is a choice, but wisdom is a need to all mankind.”


About 65% of the total population of Africa are below the age of 35 years, and over 35% are between the ages of 15 and 35 years – making Africa the most youth full continent. By 2020, it is projected that out of 4 people, 3 will be on average 20 years old. About 10 million young African youth arrive each year on the labor market. The African Union envisions and is striving for an integrated African economic social, cultural and political development agenda: A prosperous Africa at peace with itself and its partners.

Clearly an emergent and integrated Africa can be fully realized only if its demographic advantage – “large population of youth” is mobilized and equipped to help drive Africa’s integration, peace and development agenda. This vision emanates from the belief and conviction that a strong and accountable leadership and successful integration needs to be anchored on participation of the key segment of the population of which the Youth are an essential pillar.

Against the foregoing and in light of, the great potential, dynamism, resourcefulness, resiliency, and aspiration of African youth, the continent continues to face daunting challenges of maximizing benefits from this critical social capital by for example, adequately investing in its growth and enrichment.

The African Population is estimated to be more than 1 billion people of which 60% are youth. The greater proportion of this percentage does not have the opportunity to fully develop its potential and contribute effectively to the realization of the declared Vision and the Mission of Africa’s leaders. Consequently the majority of African youth continue to face; unemployment, underemployment, lack of skills, relevant education, access to health-related information and services including those related to diagnosis, treatment, and care of those living with HIV and above all prevention of new HIV infections among them. Along with other groups such as women and the disabled, the youth bear the brunt of internal and external crisis, be it those related to financial, food and energy crisis amongst others. In addition, many disadvantaged youth are unwittingly conscripted into armed struggle, used to settle political scores and are exposed to various negative media that erodes their positive heritage- leading them to delinquency, drug abuse, and other risky behavior. Furthermore and as is well known, most youth that migrate to foreign countries or even within continent, in search of greener pastures also face exploitation and mistreatments among other things.

Obviously, the Vision and Mission of the African Union and the NEPAD goals of Africa’s renaissance would be realized not only through economic growth but also deliberate efforts to accelerate social development that gives high priority to youth empowerment and development.

At national level, there is full recognition of the dire challenges and great opportunities the youth presents and most African countries are making efforts to involve young people in political and decision making processes, as reflected in the establishment of national youth parliaments and youth appointment in executive positions and consultation with young people on policies and programmes that affect their lives.

At regional and continental levels, Youth networks have been established including the Pan African Youth Union to serve as a channel for youth engagement and for conveying youth perspectives for integration into national, regional and continental policies strategies and programmes.

It must be noted that most African countries have youth related policies and programs. The same is the case with the Regional Economic Communities. At continental level among other things, the African leaders have collectively taken the following actions:

Adopted and approved the African Youth Charter (2006) which as of date 37 countries have signed and 21 have also ratified. The Youth Charter is a comprehensive framework that addresses the rights and obligations of young people. It also constitutes the social contract of the State and the Youths that responds to the priority needs regarding their development and empowerment.

Adopted the plan of Action of the second decade of Education (2006-2015) to emphasize the need for higher, quality in African Education at all levels.

Declared the years 2009-2018 as the Decade for Youth Development and approved a Plan of action to implement the priority activities identified during the Decade. This is in harmony with International consensus on the International Year of Youth 2010 through 64th UN General Assembly Resolution 34/134

The International Youth Year 2010 declared by the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) offer an excellent opportunity to undertake National, Regional and International activities in favor of promoting dialogue and mutual comprehension, particularly through effective participation of Governments and young Africans in the United Nations Conference on Youth.

Despite, the conducive policy environment created at the country, regional and continental levels, major challenges still exist. These challenges are a result of multiple factors including the development stage of most African countries and the gaps in-between policies, strategies and their effective implementation. This is not backed by adequate budgetary allocation to support and scale up effective and evidence-informed youth programmes.

Key Challenges

1. Inadequate investment in quality and competitive education and skills for the youth and especially those with special needs;

2. Limited access to youth friendly health information and quality services including those related to planned parenthood;

3. prevention of new HIV infections and diagnosis, treatment and care for those living with HIV;

4. Non-availability of productive employment and self-employment for a good majority of young people; consequently the exclusion of the critical mass which is indispensable social capital required both for economic growth and social development.

5. Limited opportunities to learn, utilize, develop and apply modern technology;

6. Rare opportunities to civic participation, governance and education that engenders human rights; issues of equity, equality and the relevance of social inclusion;

7. Gender inequity and inequality particularly in tertiary education, representation in key institutions i.e. parliament, and sectoral ministries;

8. Inadequate availability of comprehensive and age appropriate sexuality education for in and out of school youth coupled with high level of sexual exploitation and gender-based violence in many countries.

9. Inadequate absorptive capacity of academic institutions including those of higher and technical learning.

10. Poor access towards financial and other resource in ensuring youth development;

11. Poverty among the youth remain a great challenge.


– Harnessing the benefits of the demographic dividend presented by the large population of youth by Increasing investment in their development could enable the continent to attain its growth and development objective as demonstrated in South East Asian countries;

– The African Youth Charter, the approval of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps and the Plan of Action for the Decade; all of which provide a framework for harmonization with country level policies and programmes and which pave the way for implementing agreed upon priorities;

– Africa’s commitment towards good governance, economic and social integration facilitates a meaningful contribution from the highly mobile and globally aware young people. This Business acumen of young people- if tapped contributes to Africa’s economic;

– Current efforts towards the promotion of peace and security through advocacy for; dialogue and reconciliation among conflicting parties; avoidance of undemocratic change of government; and the establishment and contribution for the operation of the AU peace keeping force. Establish and strengthen a directorate of youth development within the AU to ensure effective coordination, monitoring and evaluation of youth development interventions.

Key Priority Areas for Action

1. Incrementally increase in investment for Youth development, empowerment including the preparation of adolescents for positively emerging into enabled youth, which requires priority investment in health, education, and employment creation;

2. Accelerating the implementation of the African Youth Charter, the Plan of Action for the Decade and provide the necessary mechanism and adequate resources for their implementation;

3. Operationalizing the African Youth Volunteer Corps at continental and country level in the identification, training and deployment of African Youths for placements;

4. Establishing an effective mechanism for coordinating and evaluating the implementation of the above (1, 2 and 3);

5. Establish the Africa Youth Trust Fund through effective resource mobilization, with a mechanism for management and oversight for implementation;

6. Strengthening the technical and institutional capacity of (a) academic and technical entities so that they could in turn enable youth to meet the current and future development demands including the utilization and application of modern technology (b) of selected African networks such as the PYU; (c) the African Union Commission so that it could effectively monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Youth Charter as well as the Plan of Action for the Decade and the AU-YVC;

7. Appropriately resource and scale up comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education for in and out of school with the aim of preventing unwanted pregnancies, new HIV infections, substance usage, harmful cultural practices, gender-based violence, and preparing youth for a gender equitable and mutually respective relationships and families;

8. Expand access to quality sexual and reproductive health services including those preventing mother to child transmission of HIV and ensuring safe motherhood and planned-parenthood for all young Africans.

Call to Action

Clearly, the implementation of the African Youth Charter, and the Plan of Action for the Decade (2009-2018) and the African Youth Volunteer Corps cannot be implemented fully without international collaboration. Thus, this African position on youth presents an opportunity for coordinating and harmonizing national, regional and international efforts geared at the realization of Africa’s objective pertaining to youth development and empowerment.

Africa calls on all stake holders for full support in the implementation of these priority areas!

Thanks for taking your awesome time to read articles and research! Please feel free always to make your comments or send. Have a bless and wonderful day!

Joseph M D Johnson

Youth Advocate/ AU YVC – Liberia

Accra , May 26 2011 – A Model African Union (AU) Summit was held in Accra on Thursday to commemorate the 48th Anniversary of the AU Day with the focus on youth empowerment. The summit focused on High level consultation on youth development issues was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration at the International Conference Center in Ghana.

This summit was the first official Model African Union Summit for the African Union starting 2012. Organized by the Human Resources, Science and Technology commission of the African Union in Addis Ababa, 1st – 9th April 2011, the forum was held under the same theme as the African Youth Summit: ‘Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development’.

The one-day summit, attended by 143 delegates from AU Member States, provided a platform to deliberate on issues affecting the African youth. Participants constituted Youth Leaders in Ghana and other youth engaged in Diplomacy across Africa including Joseph M D Johnson, African Youth Volunteer and Youth Advocate of Liberia. Johnson was selected as an official delegate by MAUS Commission to represent Liberia as Head of State stimulating Youth Empowerment dialogue at the summit.

At the opening of the summit, Mr John Armah, Chairman of Model African Union Summit, welcome and introduced officials. Mr. Armah’s words reflected that, “It’s time the youth take up the leadership role in regional and national development.” The chairman cautioned delegates to comply with the code of conduct to ensure a civil and respected work environment throughout the conference. It was noted that, ‘delegates who do not follow the code of conduct will forfeit privileges to debate and vote. Delegates are to treat other delegates with highest level of respect.’

Days before the summit, selected delegate were sent information and guidelines followed by a letter by the Under Secretary General for the summit Management – Elorm Quarshie – with an annex on the scope and format of the summit by the Chair and Vice Chair and Secretary of committees. Liberia was placed in ‘committee 2’ and was joined by Hans Peter Nyarko, a Liberian student in Ghana and three other Nigerian youth leaders under the Topic: Peace and Security Council.

The basis of the summit was that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ghana highly regards youth as an important resource that must participate in decision making with issues relating to their progress. Essentially, Ghana’s action to initiate MAUS 2011 to commemorate the 48th Anniversary of the AU Day is an evidence of ‘establishing or reinforcing mechanisms that would facilitate and popularize active and meaningful youth participation in the development and implementation of global and national plans such as the MDGs and Poverty Reduction Strategy Programs (PRSPs),’ as part of the call to the AU Heads of States and Governments from Pre-Summit African Youth Forum resolution held in Addis Ababa, 1st – 9th April 2011.

More specifically, the summit brought African youth together to come out with an essential working document for Action.  In response to the outcome of the summit, the Chairman, Mr. Armah stressed that, ‘a working document would be presented to the AU Secretariat, Organization of African Youth and the Economic, Culture and Social Organisation of the United Nations (UN). Mr Freeheart Dela Tsey, Deputy Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Bureau, said various African Governments had made it a point to make youth empowerment their priority. Mr. Tsey made known that, ‘there were plans to establish a Pan-African University , and urged the youths to take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade themselves.’

Sub-themes of the summit where “Diffusing The Cause Of Political And Religious Extremism Amongst Tribes And Youth, Rethinking Governance Frameworks And The Development Agenda To Promote, Resolutions for Education, Trade, Employment and Culture and ‘Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development’.  Issues of trade barriers for regional integration and how to empower the youth through information communication technology were also discussed.

On peace and security on the continent, Mr Abdul Moomen Muslim, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the Summit, observed that to achieve these, African Governments had to educate, provide employment and dispense justice without fear or favour. He called on African Governments to re-commit themselves to democracy, the rule of law and freedom of the press.

Joseph M D Johnson (AU YVC – Liberia), John Armah (Chairman MAUS 2011) and Delegate South Sahara Africa

During the committee section on Education, Joseph M D Johnson advocated for youth participation, ratification, implementation and monitoring of the African Youth Charter. Critically considering the challenges African Youth faced with issues about education and unemployment, Johnson passionately stressed Article 13 of the African Youth Charter: Education and Skills Development. He provided information from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) that, “although rates have greatly improved in Africa over the last few decades, approximately 40% of Africans over the age of 15, and 50% of women above the age of 25 remain illiterate.” He left pondering questions in the minds of delegates when he asked, ‘what are our African governments doing to make these policies a reality for the success of Africa?’  It has been recorded by UNESCO that, “Africa loses an estimated 20,000 skilled personnel a year to developed countries, brain drain.”

As a Head of State representative, Joseph M D Johnson drew the attention of delegates to strategies the Liberian government is putting in place to advance education, youth participation and youth empowerment in a moment of numerous challenges as a post war nation. He suggested that the AU and African government should “monitor the implementation of the African Youth Charter and the Plan of Action for the decade through standardized tools, indicators and mechanisms for mainstreaming youth issues and monitoring progress towards development targets (ensure availability of youth comparative data for advocacy and programming),” as agreed in the from Pre-Summit African Youth Forum resolution held in Addis Ababa, 1st – 9th April 2011.

One of the prominent honors that came out from the forum where outstanding presentations from four sections of the summit among which Liberia was listed. Outstanding delegates were congratulated. In a brief meeting with John Armah, Chairman of the MAUS 2011 summit, delegates selected will be called to take on a regional tour to equip and empower the youth on volunteerism among other issues. As part of a special package, Mr. John Armah assured delegates a Certificate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Further presents will include books from EPP, Databank Offers, page markers, free refreshment, networking, tools from Democracy, Research Writing, Tools on Public Speaking and many other exciting offers all for free.

Liberia, Algeria, Ivory Coast, and  South Sahara being recognized for Outstanding MAUA 2011 Presentation, from right to left.

At the end of the summit delegates agreed to pass a document that will increase youth participation in Africa. Most of the delegates spoke on issues that are confront their nations and gave possible recommendations to increasing youth empowerment. Most importantly, many stressed the need for unity and peace in Africa. A censure was founded on an argument that delegates need more time to prepare and plan for their presentations. The summit was designed to engage young people in dialogue by participating in youth empowerment events and having enough time to drive into the purpose for which the summit was organized. Even though limitation of funds is a continuing part of organizing these summits, method of creating a platform for African youth voices to be heard clearly and loudly must be a significant aspect of such an event.

Subsequently, the delegates appreciated the atmosphere of creating a friendly network between young people from different African backgrounds. For the first time, most delegates shared the experience of acting as a Head of State of their nation. Many agreed in the importance of decisions as proverb says, “Before you take any decision, consider its effect on the next seven generations.” MAUS 2011 created an opportunity for young people to understand the challenges and efforts leaders use to make decisions at international meetings for the success of their nations.

Finally, unanswered questions were still roaming creating minds: what system can we have to enhance youth participation? What are social issues different from youth issues? How the youthfulness of the African population could be both an asset and an opportunity? Are these policies and rectifications really being implemented? Are Governments investing towards African Youth Development? What can African Youths do to ‘Mobilize other colleagues to participate in national decision making process? How can African Youths participate actively in development processes at continental, regional and national levels? Is the future of African youths left in our own hands? These many other related questions were not addressed satisfactorily.

NOTE: ** (Please note that outcome of the summit will be forwarded by the MAUS Commission)


Joseph M D Johnson, a Liberian youth advocate shortly studying at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration – GIMPA and a certified African Union Youth Volunteer highly involve in youth empowerment activities. I participate actively in development processes at continental, regional and national levels and help engage leaders at these levels to prioritize youth development issues, youth participation, governance by advocating for the ratification, implementation and monitoring of the African Youth Charter.

In support of the MDGs Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development’ have devoted my voluntary service to creating partnership with African Youth Ministries across the continent, endorsed by the Embassy of Liberia in Ghana during my studies, to strengthen the knot through dialogue and partnership. This commitment have driven my time and efforts to work along with youth organizations from different background, attending national forums, conferences, summits and high profile meetings.


P: +233 244 184181

By Eden Yohannes

Addis Ababa, April 9, 2011 ( – High level consultation on youth development issues and funding was held here on the first two days of April followed by a Pre-summit African Youth Forum April 4-6, 2011. An Extraordinary session of the Bureau of the Conference of the Ministers of Youth (COMY III) was held on 8th to 9th April. This pre-summit series of meetings were held in preparation for the June-July 2011 summit to be held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Organized by the Human Resources, Science and Technology commission of the African Union, the forum was held under the same theme as the July summit: ‘Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development’.

At the opening of the forum, the need for the full involvement of the youth in Africa in the development process was highlighted by Jean-Pierre Ezin, AUC Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST). A pan African Youth Union representative also noted that the UN system has launched a number of initiatives and programmesin support of African Development.

The rationale for the forum was that the African Union Commission considers African youth as a special resource that requires special attention not only because of demographic issues, but also the inherent energy that it possesses. The Forum is intended to strengthen Africa’s participation and engagement in the International Year of Youth with a view to ensuring that their concerns and priorities are adequately reflected. The primary objectives of the Forum are to raise awareness and call for effective commitment and actions on the part of all stakeholders and partners at all levels, to effectively include youth concerns into development policies, programs, strategies and practices in Africa.

More specifically, the objectives of the forum are,demonstrating compelling evidence of youth empowerment for sustainable development; deliberating on how the youthfulness of the African population could be both an asset and an opportunity; deliberating on challenges that the youth face in general and propose key recommendations for consideration by Heads of State and Government; promoting sharing of experiences, good practices and lessons learned in mainstreaming youth development into sustainable development agendas; showcasing the significant innovative advancement of African youth, including the Diaspora in their research and scientific activities and achievements and contributions towards sustainable development and many other related objectives.

Sub-themes of the forum were youth empowerment and socio-political stability; youth empowerment and socio-economic stability; youth empowerment and social and individual welfare; and youth empowerment and sustainable development. Expected outcomes of the forum were youth empowerment and development programs prioritized and implemented successfully at national and regional levels; enhancing knowledge of African youth in mainstreaming youth concerns in to development policies and practices; strengthening capacity of African youth to address their own development; challenges and leverage opportunities presented; support for the implementation of the African Youth Charter and strategic alliances and partnerships on the Plan of Action.

The pre-summit youth consultation is designed to come up with list of recommendations to present to the Malabo summit. Some 300 young boys and girls from the five geographical regions of Africa and the Diaspora participated in the forum where they debated and recommended issues for discussion at the heads of state meeting in July. Nonetheless, participation in this particular forum by three hounded young participants, representing the 53 African Union member states through their respective youth federation representatives and Members of Parliaments. But the participation of the civil society organizations was remarkably low, if not non-existent.

In the five days of the forum, most of the panelist and presenters spoke on behalf of United Nations agencies such as UN women, the UNEP or UNICEF as well as other International foundations. This criticism is founded on the argument  that, as the forum is designed for the participation  and consultation of Africa’s young people, more time and resources should have been devoted to home grown initiatives. Although funding is an ongoing concern, we still need to find other methods of getting young Africans to participate in this type of forum and ensuring that their voices are heard loudly and clearly.

After this forum, its various meetings and consultations, many questions still remain unanswered:  what is a youth issue? Is it not the same as any other societal issue? What is so different from any other group in the wider community? Is youth not part of society? While these and other related questions were not answered adequately in the forum, many presentations were made about entrepreneurship and innovation, leadership and other topics that did not come close to addressing the real issues.

One of the notable recommendations that came out of the forum was the reaffirmation of the commitment by Africa’s youth for the effective implementation of the African Youth Charter, the International Year of Youth and the decade of Youth Development and its accompanying Plan of Action.

As the July summit on youth is approaching and has only eleven weeks to go, it is every young African’s hope that the recently held forum will actually influence the decisions of heads of state in Malabo in July and not end up being just another forum.

Eden Yohannes is Addis Ababa based reporter for She can be reached by sending email through this form.

African Youth! I think you can take advantage of this opportunity that I found at:

Right now, over 200 million people are without a viable way to make a living, and millions more are in less-than-desirable working conditions around the globe.

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ThePowering Economic Opportunity: Creating a World that Works competition is open to individuals, organizations and collaborations who think they have what it takes to create sustainable employment opportunities in vulnerable communities around the world. Anyone can submit their idea in English, French, Spanish, or Portuguese.

Five winners will each receive US $50,000. The deadline to submit is June 15.

Stand-out entries will be those that have shown impact, are ready to be replicated elsewhere, and play nicely with others to expand their reach. The creativity is astounding so far. There’s everything from a historic center in Cuba to a farming magazine in Tanzania to a women’s swimming project in Sri Lanka.

So, entrepreneurs: get to it. Employ your imagination, and be a part of helping to bring the jobless millions down to zero. Coming up blank? Share your opinions on the entries themselves, and wage your bets on the best ideas by voting for who will make it to the first round.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Hamjambo!

I am delighted to be with you here today in the setting of the famous University of Nairobi. This is the third and last day of my present visit to Kenya, and I was very keen not to leave the country without visiting the University and speaking on one of the most important issues facing Africa today: the situation of the region’s youth and particularly the issue of employment.

A few months ago, when the Spring Meetings of the World Bank took place in Washington, I organized a high-level round-table meeting for leaders from all over the world to come together to share views on the nature of the challenges that the youth now face, and especially on possible solutions. One of the keynote speakers at that event was a Kenyan, the late Kinuthia Murugu. He did a wonderful job in showcasing the perspective of Kenya and providing all of the participants with a better understanding of the complexity and importance of the issue. Again, I would like to express my condolences at his passing, but also thanks for the insights and inspiration that he gave to us at that historic meeting.

You may be aware that Africa faces a pressing problem of youth unemployment. Steadily worsening over the years, youth unemployment on the continent is now assuming crisis proportions, particularly in the wake of the current global economic recession. But Africa cannot wait; it has to explore potential options and take action now to respond in the short-term to the impact of the global recession, while also putting in place programs to address the structural causes of the problem.

Let me share a few facts that typify the African youth. Young make up 37% of the working-age population in Africa, but 60% of the unemployed. Young people are more likely to work longer hours under insecure work arrangements, characterized by low productivity and meager earnings. Females face particularly strong challenges in entering the labor force, due to early motherhood and lack of education.

The face of Africa’s youth is an eighteen-and-a-half year old female, living in a rural area, with some education and literate, but not attending school. The main challenge for her is to find and sustain productive employment with a reasonable income.

There are several dimensions to the problem of youth unemployment but let me focus on two. There’s a demographic dimension: Africa’s population profile is shaped like a typical pyramid – it is has a “youth bulge” at the base. Almost half of Africa’s population is under 25; about 75% is under the age of 35. It is estimated that by 2050, Africa will account for 29% of all people aged 15 to 24. This is about 348 million of the total 1.2 billion persons globally.

This raises the question: will the continent be ready to accept the responsibility of managing the lives and future of a majority of the world’s youths?

For Kenya, this means that economic opportunities driven by a high growth rate must outpace the increase in population currently estimated at around 2.9%. Development literature tells us that that to bend the curve of poverty you need growth of above 7% sustained over several years.

Then there is a labor markets dimension. The rate at which young people find jobs depends on how prepared the labor market is to receive them, and how ready they are for the labor market. Even with high primary school enrolment with an equal number of girls and boys starting school, today primary school completion can no longer be our goal. In Kenya, out of every 100 students who start primary school, only 68 transition to secondary school; and just 6 of this group go to universities or tertiary institutions to learn the skills required to give the country an edge in an increasingly competitive world.

Experience worldwide has shown that no nation has achieved a technological and socio-political advance where less than 15% of its qualified young citizens have access to tertiary education. The US has achieved over 80% access while in Europe the average is 35%. In emerging economies like South Africa and Brazil—which Kenya seeks to emulate—the percentage of access to tertiary education is 18% and 25% respectively.

It is not surprising to find, therefore, that potential employers in Kenya as well as elsewhere say that our institutions aren’t graduating people with the skills they need to enhance their success. This means there is need to fundamentally address the skills gap, as well as the skill mismatch. The abilities of job-seekers are falling short of the ambitions of industry.
This Africa-wide problem is also reflected in Kenya. In fact, Kenya’s youth unemployment situation is particularly serious. For instance, in the period 1998-2005, aggregate unemployment fell from 15% to 12.5%, but the share of the youth in unemployment rose from 60% to 72 %. And the rate of joblessness is almost 40% of youth, or an estimated 5.2 million young adults. This is double the adult average of 21 percent.

Kenya’s vision 2030 sets an ambitious target to become a middle income country by 2030. This goal not only requires uninterrupted growth of 10% per year, but will also demand citizens with globally-competitive skills.
While I have pointed out the reality of the challenge, let me now turn to the latent opportunity. If effectively managed, this “youth bulge” could become one of Africa’s drivers of economic growth, delivering significant demographic benefits—as it did in some of the Asian tiger economies.
It was Churchill who said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Which do you want to be?

An Agenda for Action

We clearly need an agenda for action to address these challenges and let me propose some of its possible components. First, policy makers have a duty to build capable states with the clear purpose of not only expanding economic opportunities but also effectively and efficiently delivering basic services to citizens. This means every Kenyan shilling spent on education, health and other basic services must deliver commensurate value.

Growth is best sustained by creating policy predictability as well as a political and investment climate that encourages investors to make long-term commitments, even across election cycles. These investments must be targeted at improving the human skills base of Kenya as well as providing the basic infrastructure that citizens need to thrive. Leaders must clearly communicate in word and deed that public probity will be rewarded and impunity or misuse of office, predictably, will be sanctioned.

We must focus on developing micro, small and medium enterprises as a credible springboard from which to canvas for Foreign Direct Investment. International investors follow the lead of local entrepreneurs. In Kenya, as much as 20% of the value of sales is lost due to crime, insecurity, power outages, bribes and inadequate transport. These costs are higher than in other East African countries, and 6 times the comparable cost in South Africa.

In addition, it is the duty of policy makers to modernize the curriculum, sponsor programs to assess and re-equip youth, so they have the skills the market will be looking for tomorrow. They must also aim for expansion of tertiary and university education, explore public private partnerships, and take advantage of technology to innovate and expand education beyond their walls.

The foundation of all of this is the commitment of government to build consensus on how to tackle what I have been told are the two chief enemies facing the country’s development: poverty and corruption. In this regard, the ongoing discussions under “Agenda IV” of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Framework that looks at long-term issues including national cohesion, land and institutional reform, a new constitution, and youth unemployment, provides a veritable platform for building this common understanding.

While there are challenges, Kenya also has proven potentials. It has a dynamic private sector, a vibrant civil society; it is making its mark on the global stage in mobile technology innovation and it is strong in the service sector. The ingredients for a rebound are in place. But success will also require managing the risks and establishing strong systems of social accountability.

Second, our communities must get involved. Our schools and colleges are fertile soils: we can choose to sow the seeds of our future success or let them become swamps of neglect. We all need to be part of the solution; this is not just the government’s problem; if we bury our heads in the sand, it will soon become our problem.
It was Margaret Meade who said, “The solutions to adult problems tomorrow depend, in large measure, on how children grow up today. There is no greater insight into the future than recognizing that when we save our children, we save ourselves”
Third, I have a message to the youth. Your generation must realize you are living on the cusp of a revolution. Just like those who saw the dawn of the agricultural or industrial revolution, you who are living in this unique moment of history must learn how to leverage ICT. Use this platform not just to update your Facebook page but to close the knowledge gap since access to ICT equalizes people of all cultures.  

The biggest change that you need to make is in your mindset; shifting from that of job seekers to job creators; from writing good bios to writing great business plans. It also means transitioning from being provincial to thinking regionally and yes, even globally; from waiting for change to becoming the drivers of change.

We must all aim for nobility of character and eschew ignoble wealth acquired by dishonest means. Theodore Roosevelt once said “I wish to preach not the doctrine of ignoble ease but the doctrine of the strenuous life; the life of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not from the man who desires mere easy peace, but the man who does not shrink from danger, hardship or bitter toil and who, out of these wills the splendid ultimate triumph. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort.”

Roosevelt equated a life of ignoble ease to that of “peace that springs merely from the lack either of desire or of power to strive after great things”.

And you do not have to look far to see Kenyan models like Ory Okolloh a young Kenyan lawyer and blogger, who founded “Ushahidi” – an ICT platform that uses members of the public to provide information from areas too remote or turbulent for official sources to get to quickly. For Ory, the power of technology can enable ordinary people to demand accountability

As you strive towards bringing about change, your citizenship of Kenya should be a constant reminder of the divine call you all must have to sacrificial service to your nation. It must also be a reminder that character is after all the destiny of individuals, families, communities, firms, organizations, and nations; and service that prioritizes personal benefit above the common good is contemptible and ignoble.

It was Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, who said, “Everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world.”

You have all you need within you to create the Kenya of your dreams. A new Kenya – known for its world class citizens. That, my dear young people of Kenya, is your destiny. And remember, Character is Destiny.

Thanks for reading and I trust that this article will be helpful for your intended purpose. Kindly let me know when you need further assistance as I look forward to your good comments or questions. All the best!

Best regards,

Joseph M D Johnson

AU – YVC – Liberia

Researcher / Youth Advocate

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