Africa Day celebrations in Somalia was marked in the capital Mogadishu today, in pomp.
The day this year focused on the youth as a dynamic force, with potential to transform the continent, riding on the theme, “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”.
In his remarks, the AU Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, highlighted the importance of Somalia’s youth in solving the country’s security challenges.
“We do recognize that successes on the security front in Somalia cannot be realized without an agenda that includes the youth,” Ambassador Madeira told guests at the Africa Day celebrations.
Youth aged between 10 – 35 years, comprise 51-percent of the country’s population, while 60-percent of Africa’s population is currently aged 24 years and below, according to latest statistics. The African Union Mission in Somalia is at the forefront of engaging the youth to help them lead more purposeful lives.
“Most of those who are fighting are young Somalis, we need to empower those young Somalis and rescue those who have fallen into the hands of violent extremism,” SRCC Madeira noted.
The chief guest at the celebrations, the federal Minister of Information, Mr. Abdirahman Omar Osman, lauded the AU Mission for its unwavering support to Somalia.
“Somalia used to be one of the best and greatest nations in Africa that supported the struggle for independence in other African nations,” the minister said.
He expressed gratitude at the resolve by African countries to keep their troops in Somalia.
“We are very proud to be here today, to see African troops help and support us; so that Somalia can become the nation that everybody used to know,” he stated.
The AU Mission is marking ten years since it first deployed troops in Somalia. An AU-UN joint review team is currently in Mogadishu to assess and determine a transition plan, before the onset of the drawdown of AU troops next year.
“We are ready for that transition, but we want an assuring, responsible and purposeful transition,” Ambassador Madeira stated, adding that AMISOM will ensure no vacuum is left behind after the troops’ exit.
“We will work with them (Somalis), to ensure that the gains they have accumulated today, and the ones they will accumulate tomorrow, are secured, as we prepare for our drawdown and exit,” he stressed.
The UN Special Representative for Somalia Mr. Michael Keating, who attended the celebrations described Africa as “an important organization,”, whose unity has the potential of realizing tremendous achievements.
Africa Day is celebrated every year on May 25, to commemorate the founding of the Organization of African Unity, the precursor to the African Union was founded, on 25 May 1963.