Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation President Mac Suzman stated this while presenting data from the Goalkeepers 2018 Report on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) at the first Goalkeepers event in Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday.
Suzman said the two countries are among the dozen in Sub-Saharan Africa that would house 90 per cent of the world’s poorest people.
He added that while extreme poverty had reduced significantly in East and Central Asia in the last 27 years, it had increased in Sub-Saharan Africa.
|file photo - AFP|
However, Suzman added that the large population of young people in both countries could be their strengths – but only if they get the right investment in health and education now.
“If the overall youth population stays the same, it means everywhere else the youth population will shrink. That means by 2050, one in every three young people in the world will be African. These young people have the potential to be a real force for change with their ambition, ingenuity and innovation.
“But they will only be able to do that if they are able to fulfil their potential. And that will depend on a large part on key investment in two very basic things – health and education,” he said.
However, wife of the late Nelson Mandela Graca Machel urged youths not to accept the statistics but collaborate to change the narrative.
Mrs. Machel said: “We don’t need to accept this 2050 as the numbers are saying here. I want really to challenge you: it cannot happen in your life time. You have the power to change things. And when I say movement, it is because none of us alone in our countries can be movements – a young people movement.
“Begin to become a network and in that network, we are creating a platform to support you so there is no door that can be shut in your face.
“Take it as a challenge of your time; connect; build movements and the movements will give you the power to do what our political ancestors, the Madibas, the Zulus, etc did and were able to say, ‘Apartheid, No’. You have to say, ‘extreme poverty, No’; ‘discrimination against women, not in my lifetime’.”
Also speaking, UN Deputy General Secretary Aisha Mohammed said there was need for collaborations between governments, private sector and individuals to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She also urged young people to hold their governments accountable and call them out when they do not deliver.
“I think you should shadow your governments report in 2019 at the General Assembly. Are they really moving on the indicators? You should be specific about calling them out and I think no government likes to be called out,” she said.
The programme climaxed with the presentation of the first “Change-maker Award’ to Natalie Ruby of Kenya for her advocacy against Female Gender Mutilation (FGM).
The award was received on her behalf by Christine Alphonso, who shared how Natalie’s work helped her to overcome the challenges of FGM, which claimed her father’s life when he tried to protect his girls from it.
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