Former Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama on Wednesday advised African youth to avoid taking risky journeys to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea where hundreds have drowned.
Addressing the African Union’s (AU) 6th High-Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance in Africa, Mahama said the youth were both Africa’s present and future because of their large demographics.
Youths under the age of 35 make up about 65 percent of Africa’s estimated more than a billion people.
“The thing which keeps us sleepless at night as leaders is the creation of opportunities for our youth,’’ the former head of state told delegates in Pretoria.
He said he recently listened to an interview of a youth who had been repatriated back to Ghana saying his family had contributed $6,500 for him to take the risky journey in search of a better life.
Mahama wondered why such youths who get financial contributions could not start up small businesses.
He also said the continent is facing the challenge of producing many graduates from courses in humanities where employment is difficult to find, yet more demand is for science graduates.
Speaking at the same conference, South Africa’s Minister for Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi said: “African youth dying in the Mediterranean Sea is an indictment on all of us.”
She said her country was committed in spearheading youth representation in all sectors of its economy.
Thousands of Africans trying to reach Europe have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea over the past few years.
Meanwhile, the African Union Commission said this week it will help repatriate over 15,000 African migrants stranded in Libya by the end of the year.
Last week, video footage emerged showing African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya to work on farms and homes.
The three-day conference provides an inclusive platform for policymakers, experts and youth representatives to interrogate policies and practices impacting youth participation and representation in governance among others.