China-Africa Youth Festival Prepares New Generation To Take The Lead

china africa youth festival
Credit: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

It is undeniable that the future of Sino-Africa relations largely lies in the hands of Sino-Africa youth. And even more, the preparations, capacity building, and communication platforms available to these young people will determine how much they can influence the future cooperation between the two sides. 

On October 26th, the fifth China-Africa youth forum was held in China’s capital, Beijing. The opening ceremony was attended by 200 people, including 34 African envoys and delegates to China, representatives of African students studying in China, and Chinese youth representatives. Forty-two African youth representatives were invited to participate in a series of cultural exchange activities such as roundtable talks, cultural activities, and sightseeing during the seven-day festival in China’s capital of Beijing and Jiangxi province, China.org.cn reported.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The China-Africa youth forum was a sideline event which was attended by high dignitaries both from the Chinese and African side. The festival this year was jointly held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, and the Jiangxi Provincial Government.

According to China.or.cn, Deng Li, the assistant foreign minister, stressed that young people are the participants and contributors of China-Africa cooperation, saying that the youth of China and Africa should continue to unite and cooperate to better build the FOCAC and improve China-Africa relations.

Chairman of the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation said at the opening ceremony that the festival has become an important platform for young people from China and African countries to deepen friendly exchanges. The festival also advances mutual learning since its inauguration in 2016. 

In attendance was also Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman, the permanent representative of the African Union (AU) to China. Osman mentioned in his opening remarks that “Africa’s population is currently 1.2 billion and it is expected to more than double by 2050. Sixty percent of the continent’s population is currently under 25 years of age.” Osman added, “as we prepare to hold next year’s FOCAC, we must not forget that young people should continue to occupy a prominent place in our partnership and the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063 and to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Mauritian Hosany Sumayyah was an African youth representative, a surgeon from Mauritius, who shared her story of working as an anti-epidemic volunteer in China’s Zhejiang province in February. She used her speech to admonish other African youth to promote China-Africa relations. Sumayyah said, “as African youths living in China, now is our chance to promote unity, to work for a common goal. We are each a link binding China and Africa, and having seen the best of both our respective countries, we should focus on finding what unites us, what helps us to grow stronger roots, and how we can build a brighter future.”

Preparing Africa’s Youth For Africa’s Relations With China

The empowerment of young Africans to take the lead in negotiating Africa’s relationship with China goes beyond the opportunity to participate in a week-long youth festival. It takes a more defined and coherent approach. That is why we at Africans on China, a consultancy and multimedia company, in 2018 2018 launched a youth initiative to empower young Africans to take the lead in negotiating Africa’s relationship with China. 

The year-long program assists African students in developing their knowledge about Africa-China relations, refining their leadership skills, and deepening their exposure and access to Africa-China related resources in order to embolden them to make positive contributions in this space.

The program offers unique opportunities relevant to student-leaders, including training and support on student leadership, organizing, mobilization, mentorship, and access to members’ only platforms to study, live, visit, and do business in China. In exchange, student leaders are to organize and lead an AoC student chapter on their campus and report on their work.

What other avenues can facilitate Sino-Africa Youth dialogue and enable young people in the space to contribute to relations between the two sides? And how can the African side be empowered to take advantage of the opportunities available in the continent’s relations with China?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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