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YALI Voices: The African Union Youth Volunteer Corps – Harnessing Africa’s Demographic Potential
July 24, 2017

Contributed by Daniel Adugna, AU-YVC Program Manager, 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, Ethiopia

The African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVC) is a flagship program of the African Union that recruits, trains and deploys young African professionals from across the continent and the diaspora, to serve in all 55 member states of the African Union. AU-YVC promotes volunteerism to deepen the status of young people in Africa as key actors in Africa’s development targets and goals, enhancing their participation in policy- and decision-making. It brings people together to share skills, knowledge, creativity and learning to build a more integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent driven by its citizens.

Today it is estimated that Africans ages 15–35 make up roughly 40 percent of the continent’s populatio

Members of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps
Members of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps

n, making Africa the “most youthful continent.” African youth have great potential, dynamism, resourcefulness, resiliency and aspirations. However, the continent continues to face daunting challenges to maximizing benefits from this critical social capital, such as adequately investing in its growth and enrichment. Clearly an emergent and integrated Africa can be fully realized only by mobilizing and equipping its demographic advantage — its large population of youth — to help drive Africa’s integration, peace and development agenda. African Union Agenda 2063 recognizes this pivotal role of young people, and it places youth empowerment and development as a key enabler.

Since its launch in December 2010, AU-YVC has recruited and trained over 500 young African professionals, with close to 250 serving as volunteers in their respective professional capacities across the African Union. The key objectives of the AU-YVC are:

  • Empower youth through leadership development, career opportunities and active citizenship.
  • Mainstream youth in policy- and decision-making spaces across the continent.
  • Promote pan-Africanism and Afrocentric perspectives.
Man and woman standing during group meeting
Man and woman standing during group meeting

AU Youth Volunteers are required to serve in an AU Member State where they are originally not from, thus exposing them to new culture, language, food, friends and more. Upon completion of their service, AU Youth Volunteers will become part of a wider alumni network of young pan-African professionals having an impact in their respective career and personal tracks. More than half of African Union Commission departments and organizations retain the volunteers after completion, with the rest transitioning into government, the private sector or academia.

The greatest impact of the AU Youth Volunteers Corps is perhaps the spaces that young people are taking up to influence continental policy- and decision-making that will impact the lives of fellow youth and generations to come. Africa and the world require an assertive African perspective in fostering a more tolerant, dynamic and equitable world. In the absence of sufficient opportunities for young people to meaningfully participate and contribute, volunteerism presents a unique opportunity for young people to unleash their potential and take up their rightful place in driving the continent’s development.

Group of volunteers painting a wall
Group of volunteers painting a wall

For more information, please visit: www.africa-youth.org/auyvc

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government. YALI Voices is a series of podcasts, videos and blogs contributed by members of the YALI Network.