Seasons’ Greetings and best wishes for the New Year 2021!
The year 2020 has been exceptional in the history of humanity. With COVID-19, everything came to a standstill worldwide. Indeed, the past nine months has been the most challenging in living memory, from both a personal and business perspective, and this has been reflected across the board. The Covid-19 outbreak has brought our attention to how fragile our societies, organizations and our lives are. This pandemic turned things upside down in a matter of weeks. It obliged governments and many institutions around the world to provide dramatic emergency support. It forced people to enter self-isolation to protect themselves and others. It pushed organizations to reimagine how they do business and how they would survive. We have learned many lessons from this global pandemic. These lessons will require our organizations and us to manage significant and, possibly, lasting changes. These will include accelerating the shift to new ways of working. Our institutions, organizations and companies have re-examined how, where, and by whom work gets done. Technology has played a pivotal role as the gamechanger in talent development in all of this as we quickly begin to realize that there are new and innovative ways to work that have emerged from this pandemic. We also acknowledge the benefits of this approach which values talent as a critical asset contributing to our organization’s sustained value creation. We also see significant improvements in human capital development with much less capital than would have been needed in the past. These new structures enable businesses to track how investment in people can heighten an organization’s human capital and support better outcomes for the enterprise, the workforce, and the wider community.
With all the adverse effects of COVID-19, we have learned how to cope with the situation. Many have seen it as a time to explore new opportunities also. Africans should see this the chance to embrace self-reliance and engage in developmental activities engineered by themselves while ensuring that the continent takes its rightful place in the world. Challenging as it has been, CAFOR managed several achievements during the year. CAFOR participated in several high-level dialogues, meetings, consultations, and conferences on its focus areas with United Nations agencies, the African Union, and other reputable institutions worldwide. New members at country level have also joined the CAFOR network. The total number of participating countries as of November 2020 is 44. The goal is to cover all 55 member states of the African Union eventually. CAFOR is also working to enhance partnerships with African-based organizations, including several youth-led organizations. CAFOR continued to hold bilateral meetings started during 2019 with African Union ambassadors and partners. In total, CAFOR met with 43 delegations among them 27 Diplomatic Representations to the African Union, 12 non-conventional stakeholders, and four private sector establishments. The meetings’ objective was to present CAFOR’s vision and mission and build trust and confidence for resource mobilization to implement its activities and programmes. Through the CAFOR Scholarship Programmes, 50 African youth were successfully placed in a scholarship programme with the European Business University (EBU) in Luxembourg. The programme is currently providing for an additional 100 young Africans. This programme that has received considerable appreciation would give African youths relevant new skills that would enable them to use better job opportunities. CAFOR looks forward to having EBU engage more young Africans in scholarships with more advanced level training courses such as Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral level training that would provide them with the necessary skills to become employable within the African continent.
We look forward to building on these activities, achievements, and lessons learnt during this pandemic challenging period.
CAFOR’s 2020 – 2024 Strategic Plan will broadly engage in the following actions:
- Secure new partnerships with numerous countries and agencies around the globe!
- Provide a continent-wide platform for exchanging information, experience and practices about new technologies and innovations among experts. CAFOR will promote a Community of Practice involving the youth in agriculture, entrepreneurship, and other vocations.
- Sensitize and mobilize stakeholders on acceptable communication practices among key stakeholders.
- Build media professionals and other interested stakeholders’ capacity to stimulate robust public debate on education and development issues.
- Promote policy change and measures for ensuring an enabling policy environment for youth to engage in the innovative enterprise in Africa.
- Translate ideas into action on the ground by testing technological innovations and institutionalizing what works.
- Promote relationships of trust and meaningful multi-stakeholder partnerships for the achievement of education goals on the continent.
- Undertake advocacy and lobbying to meet Africa’s current economic and social challenges.
- Collaborate with the African Union Commission, the Regional Economic Communities, the United Nations, donors, civil society networks and other cooperating partners in communication areas for education and development to achieve the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a stronger emphasis on youths.
The strategic plan it has put in place would give both meaning and direction on the key areas it shall be operating on for the next couple of years. CAFOR is currently engaged in frantic efforts to enhance its partnerships and mobilize resources for its projects and programmes around Africa. CAFOR is a relatively young organization established to promote development activities that would enhance Africa’s development plan, focusing on African youth. CAFOR, which has existed for only two years, is still in its start-up stage. Young as it is, and despite the challenges it is facing amidst the emergence of COVID 19, CAFOR in its modest manner and within a short space of time has succeeded in making its presence felt in many regions in Africa, and even globally. Consequently, the existence of CAFOR has boosted some remarkable awareness about the situation with young people on the African continent.
CAFOR will remain a growth-minded organization that will capitalize on exciting opportunities for the African continent whose population is young, fast-growing, and increasingly urbanized. CAFOR will necessarily have to adapt to the rapid adoption of technology, putting it in line with what makes the continent a fertile arena for innovation. Cost-effectiveness and efficiency will be critical to our operations with technology playing an important role. We are already looking ahead at all possible future perspectives. CAFOR will eventually be uniquely placed to provide a continent-wide platform for exchanging information, experience and practices on new technologies and innovations for youth empowerment among experts in government ministries, CSOs, NGOs, the media, the youth, and communities.
Work in these areas will continue in 2021 with a drive to improve communication, ensuring that CAFOR is better known and recognized globally. CAFOR will also mobilize resources from its members and partners and the influential global institutions. Such a drive would improve the Coalition’s status with other NGOs, CSOs and businesses in both the public and private sectors. The private sector will have a pivotal role in partnering in all youth development efforts and collaborating with the public sector. NGO and civil society actors could be instrumental in embracing creativity and job creation on a massive scale.
CAFOR has a Resource Mobilization Strategy for the same period. With these instruments, CAFOR will be engaging the African and international community to support new opportunities and programmes in African countries, albeit amidst this current COVID – 19 Pandemic. CAFOR will also work collectively with all its partners to mobilize financial resources to support the short, medium, and long term, COVID-19, and post COVID-19 recovery process in Africa. The Resource Mobilization Strategy will ensure a transparent, systematic, predictable, and well-coordinated approach to soliciting, acquiring, and utilizing, managing, reporting, monitoring, and evaluating International Cooperating Partners’ assistance. It will also support expanding the resource base to ensure sustainable resource availability to implement CAFOR’s programmes. In this respect, CAFOR will continue to develop further and improve relations and dialogue with the African Union Commission and all Technical and Financial Development Partners in Africa and elsewhere. The organization will consolidate the framework for resource mobilization and acquire adequate resources to implement all its activities.
CAFOR will also engage in new initiatives with new institutions, organizations and individuals and ensure their engagement and commitment. CAFOR will emphasize the principles of Collective Impact to become functional as a Coalition at varying levels. Such an initiative would constitute a group of important actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a specific social or development-related problem. These complex problems cannot always be solved by any single organization or sector alone by their very nature. Yet many collaborations that seek to solve complex developmental and social issues still omit critical partners in government and the nonprofit, corporate, and philanthropic sectors, as well as people with lived experience of the problem. By including the often radically different perspectives of these diverse players, we can generate a more meaningful dialogue.
As we develop new partnerships, CAFOR realizes that many of our partners had never worked together before, and some had dramatically different views. As we evolve to become a continental force gradually, CAFOR would grapple with their differing viewpoints and ultimately create a shared vision for reform: to promote youth development and success in Africa using the African Union’s policy instruments.
In applying our collective impact principles, we will engage the formal sectors and understand the importance of working with people who have lived experience. Authentic engagement with people experiencing the issue at first hand is critical to ensuring that strategies are effective. For example, we will try to work as much as possible with young people to improve outcomes for disconnected youths on the continent by reconnecting them to school and work.
As we want to ensure that 2021 becomes a better year when we can fulfil better hopes and dreams, I want to call on our members and potential future members to observe the following points:
- We need to be realistic about the uniqueness of CAFOR as an institution with high-calibre members and independently created. Investments in the organization by its members would make the difference.
- CAFOR should take into consideration the present situation of COVID -19 for any upcoming project implementations. This pandemic must be seen as both an opportunity and a challenge.
- CAFOR should undertake more communication for advocacy purposes. This publicity for CAFOR is significant, as it hinges on quality, inclusive, and transformative education. CAFOR’s promotion will be for acquiring a continental vision and strategy. It would boost strategic partnerships and avoid the spirit of brutal competitiveness.
- The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education in Africa could generate contributions from members’ expertise, engagement, commitment, and insights from their viewpoint. Therefore, it would be best to receive project ideas and presentations from all the countries on the continent, with specific suggestions on how these will be financed.
- CAFOR members should be imparting information about their respective countries’ plans and actions to the CAFOR Secretariat to ensure that CAFOR stands strategically relevant.
- It would be best if the financial contributions from CAFOR members are constant and consistent. CAFOR also needs more members now who are also available for meetings, for reasons of consensus.
- CAFOR should enhance its networking, fundraising and donor engagement and ensure that all African countries are represented.
- Members should participate vigorously in fundraising. Every member of CAFOR is responsible as ambassadors for CAFOR to their governments and funding partners and must be committed. This commitment is a vital essence of being a member of the organization.
- CAFOR must increase its communication networks in Africa for the effective deployment of its projects. Resource mobilization can be done at varying levels, including regional and country levels.