What started in 2012 as a Facebook group is now totally out of control
Afrika Youth Movement (AYM) is a pan-African, youth-led movement that strives for the participation, development and leadership of African youth to transform Africa. Started as a Facebook group in 2012, launched in 2015, AYM is becoming one of Africa’s largest youth movements connecting 10,000 members from 40 countries. To boost the implementation of the SDGs, it is critical to mobilize and invest in the continent’s youth to amplify their voices and empower them to collaborate in incorporating the agenda into national development strategies.
The team identified the gaps in awareness and coordination among youth initiatives as well as youth and other stakeholders nationally, regionally and globally. Also, they identified the need to play the role of a Connector because there were no other networks trying to fill this gap particularly with a focus on empowering youth in creating the Africa We Want by co-creating innovative ways of engagement. Therefore, the team created a groundbreaking new model of youth forums on the continent called “AYM Youth Empowerment Forum from Global Agenda to Africa’s Agenda”.
By organizing the inaugural Forum in Nairobi, they brought together 84 various youth actors many of whom represent grassroots initiatives, from 19 countries and equipped them with needed tools to connect and engage in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. They also partnered with universities and engaged the UN and other stakeholders by hosting conversations that matter for youth through open space, art of hosting and creative ways of harnessing collective wisdom and organizing.
The forums have resulted in structured, gender balanced, committed country focused teams called “AYM Youth Hubs”. The forum model was also replicated into national forums; in Lagos engaging religious leaders and Kampala engaging embassies and private sector. The funding model focused on maximizing strategic partnerships, members’ mobilization through their organizations and community fundraising. The initiative has been transformative, inclusive, impactful and life-changing for the members of this community.
One of many inspiring stories is Smith Etumba who took a bus trip from Goma via Kigali and Kampala to reach Nairobi to participate in the forum. He was exposed for the first time to an African event discussing the SDGs and connected to many youth from different countries. After a few weeks he went again to Nairobi to represent AYM at the Africa Youth Peace (AYP) Forum to speak about the Congo experience and he helped in the creation of AYPNet, a regional peacebuilding network. Smith went back home and launched with other Congolese participants a national hub under the theme “Active youth, Drivers of Development”. He is now an advocate of SDGs and connector in his community.
The team has already launched four decentralized hubs, in Uganda, Ghana, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria and they want to launch another 15 hubs across Africa this year, where their members are eager to organize their national forums. The forums and hubs resulted in harmonized Action Plans, peer-to-peer mentorship advocacy campaigns and regional spaces that need our ongoing support and facilitation.