Earlier this month, the G7 Youth Summit (Y7) took place in Tokyo, ahead of the official meeting of World Leaders in Ise-Shima. This meeting saw a handful of young professionals and leaders – from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, the USA, Japan and the EU (Cameroon, Norway and Turkey were observers) – come together to create a single, insight-driven document. This document will be used to advise G7 World Leaders on policy development regarding the global issues to be discussed during the G7 meeting.
Japan will host the G7 Summit at the end of this month. It is hoped that this meeting of World Leaders – to which Obama recently confirmed his presence – will symbolise a renewed partnership and commitment by the G7 countries to act symbiotically on pertinent global issues.
International Security, Climate Change, Sustainable Development, Migration and Refugees will be the main topics of conversation, and it is expected that the G7 collective will galvanise an international and coordinated response to such challenges. This will hopefully pave the way for global cohesion on such efforts.
The G7 is undoubtedly geopolitically dated; however, this does not negate from the fact that the countries constituting this group have an arsenal of capabilities and resources to contribute. They can make significant headway on resolving global issues and creating a precedent for international cooperation. Arguably, someone has to take the initial step, and the initial step – if it is to have longevity – is best taken in coordination with other powers, young and old.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, made his commitment to youth clear by his self-appointment as Minister for Youth, and other world leaders are now realising the need and importance of youth-led policy development. Not only are younger generations next in line to inherit these global challenges, and therefore have a fundamental right to voice opinion, they are also remarkably capable of giving astute and innovative advice regarding policies and the role of youth-led development in resolving certain issues.
The outcome of the G7 Youth Summit resulted in rather compelling novel ideas, advocating for a change in the current policy ‘status-quo’. The document called for world leaders to ensure safe passage of refugees and recognize that hosting refugees is a ‘public good’, as their skills and experience are a benefit to countries and should be integrated into resettlement-programmes. Another key focal point was investing in research regarding country-specific basic-income and creating a share/ circular economy.
The outcome document recognized the need for educational-reform, and the inadequacies of the G7 countries’ current education system in responding to fast-paced changes in the world were highlighted. Modern-day education must incorporate elements of active citizenship and participation in positive societal-creation through integration. This means reducing gender and educational inequality, encouraging public-private involvement in the education sector to better equip learners for the working world, and preparing the next generations for a labour market that is changing, given technological advances and an ever aging global demographic.
Many may dismiss the Y7 as being a form of whitewash, under which governments feel they have reached the requirement of ‘participatory democracy’; however in a world where more and more ‘young people’ are taking an active role in their societies and holding governments accountable, the role of young people is no longer passive.
Thanks to vast technological advancements and the fortunate position many in the G7 countries find themselves, particularly in regards to access to education, resources, networks and capital, their role is increasingly active and significant.
The G7 World Leaders should not – and hopefully will not – surpass the opportunity to take on board the thoughtful insight resulting from the 3-day Y7 summit.
Master’s Degree and Internship Program of the African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative).
Africa’s economy has been steadily increasing since 2000, due to factors such as its abundant natural resources and expansion of trade and investments. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that growth rates in Africa will remain as high as 5.4% up to 2016. While each African nation sets a target for sustainable economic development, political implementation, aimed at turning commodity-based economies into multifaceted industrialized economies through developing primary and secondary industries, is an urgent matter. On the other hand, the International Labor Organization (ILO) points out that the number of youth unemployment in Africa has reached nearly 75 million, almost one third of the youth population (200 million) in the whole region. Given these circumstances, it is expected that the yield of value-added industries and the realization of high productivity of industries in Africa, will resolve the issue as they generate job opportunities, and bring about more stabilized economies. Moreover, Japanese enterprises are showing strong recognition of and interest in a prosperous Africa.
At the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), held in Yokohama in 2013, Japan’s Government stated its policy of promoting support for the ongoing dynamic growth of Africa with stronger public-private partnerships. In his speech, Japanese Prime Minister Abe announced the “African Business Education Initiative for the Youth (hereafter, referred to as the “ABE Initiative”), a strategic five-year plan providing 1,000 youths in Africa with opportunities to study at Japanese universities as well as do internships at Japanese enterprises. Prior to the TICAD V, Japanese industries, including the Federation of Economic Organizations (KEIDANREN) and the Japanese government, had made a joint recommendation for TICAD V at “Public-Private Council for the Promotion of TICADV”. These bodies pointed out that there is a need for human resource development in both private and public sectors of Africa in order to cultivate a strong human network between Japan and Africa. The recommendation also mentioned the significance of increasing the number of African people visiting Japan, as well as increasing awareness among Africans regarding the efficiency of Japanese technologies and systems of enterprises. The ABE Initiative was launched based on this recommendation.
JICA has been appointed to implement a master’s degree and internship program within the ABE initiative framework developed for countries whose official requests have been approved by the Government of Japan.
The objective of the ABE Initiative master’s degree and internship program is to support young personnel who have the potential to contribute to the development of industries in Africa. This program offers opportunities for young African men and women to study at master’s courses in Japanese universities as international students (hereafter referred to as participants) and experience internships at Japanese enterprises. The aim is for them to develop effective skills in order for them to contribute to various fields. Beyond acquisition of skills and knowledge, this program also intends to cultivate excellent personnel who can recognize and understand the contexts of Japanese society and systems of Japanese enterprises. The expected outcome of the program is a network of potential contributors to the development of African industries who will also lead Japanese businesses to engage further in economic activities in Africa.
3. Target Participants
Target participants are from among the following three types of personnel.
1. Persons from the Private Sector
Young individuals who are or will be involved in economic activities in the local private sector maintaining and developing strong ties with Japanese companies.
2. Governmental Officials
Young officials, such as civil servants, who take part in governance and policy-making in order to enhance industries to whose development Japanese companies can contribute.
Young individuals who are responsible for educating in Higher Education and TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) institutions in Africa, in order to enhance capacity building in related industries.
4. Eligible applicants
- Citizens of one of the 54 African countries
- Between 22 and 39 years old (as of April 1st in the year of you arrival in Japan)
- A Bachelor’s degree
- Applicants from government sectors/ educators who have both of the following:
- At least 6 months working experience at their current organization
- Permission from their current organization to apply
- Have adequate English proficiency, both in written and oral communication (IELTS score of over 5.5 is preferred)
- Clearly understand the objective of this program and have a strong will to contribute to the industrial development of their country while broadening and strengthening the linkage between their country and Japan
- Not currently applying or planning to apply to scholarship programs offered by other organizations
- Have good health condition, both physically and mentally, to complete the program
- Not military personnel
5. Number of Participants/ Durations
Participants will be selected and dispatched to Japan in 4 batches and the number of participants for each batch is planned as follows.
- 1st batch (arrival in Japan in 2014): 150 participants from 4 countries (Republic of Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Mozambique and Republic of South Africa)
- 2nd batch (arrival in Japan in 2015): 350 participants from 54 African countries
- 3rd batch (arrival in Japan in 2016): 300 participants from 54 African countries
- 4th batch (arrival in Japan in 2017): 100 participants from 54 African countries
It is expected that the duration of stay in Japan will be a maximum of 3 years. (6 months as a research student, 2 years as a student for master course and 6 months as an intern)