The African Union (AU) is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent. It was officially launched in 2002 as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999). The AU is guided by its vision of “An Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”
In 2018, Aya Chebbi, a Pan-African activist was appointed as the first-ever youth envoy to the African Union. The mandate of the youth envoy is to serve as a representative of and advocate for the voices and interests of African youth to the relevant AU decision-making bodies.
The Office of Youth Envoy (OYE) is a Pan-African collaborative movement with committed young leaders and AU Youth Advisory Council supporting the AU Youth Envoy’s mandate and spearheading regional initiatives and actions. During the two-year term mission (2018-20), they engage partners and youth in Africa and the Diaspora to seize the opportunity this office presents to draw African youth together behind positive social change, dialogue and concrete action.
The Office of Youth Envoy has a stellar vision: Our vision is to have an Africa where young people are drivers of development, agents of positive change, and leaders of a Peaceful, Prosperous and Integrated continent.
On October 19, 2019, IVolunteer International invited Aya Chebbi as a guest to our online discussion, IVolunteer Series.
“I serve the young population in the world.” Enthusiasm spills as Aya Chebbi introduces herself and dives right into the topic: the 2019-20 Youth Action Plan for the African Union. The Youth Action Plan covers 4 models of action for the African Union.
The Innovation model advocates for all stakeholders to invest and raise awareness on innovation and excellence to increase learning, creativity, co-creation and engaging the youth in the role of the AU. It includes closing the information gap, empowering youth, fostering intergenerational dialogue and co-leadership, enhancing access to digital infrastructure and creating a futuristic space for the “Africa We Want.”
The Advocacy model facilitates a continental-wide platform to unite youth voices that can serve as a digital and physical covening space for exchange, peer learning, collaboration, engagement, and advocacy. It includes supporting campaigns with youth at national, Pan-African, and global levels.
The Intergenerational & Policy Model is exposing preventive approaches to address current and emerging crises and conflicts. It advocates for convening high-level intergenerational dialogues nationally, regionally, and globally to influence high-level conferences and panel settings to promote meaningful intergenerational conversations on co-leadership.
The Communication Model advocates for engaging young people through OYE’s innovative online and digital methods by establishing infrastructure for OYE, developing smart solutions through smartphone applications, promoting existing youth-led initiatives, rallying African youth around key AU campaigns, and collaborating with stakeholders on creating digital spaces for mentoring, peer learning, virtual conferencing and engagement.
At the end of the discussion, Aya had a message for young people in Africa: “First, find your identity. That will provide clarity to your vision. Then unite and radicalize (in the positive sense of the word) to move Africa forward.”