Memorandum of Understanding to Strengthen Youth Democratic Engagement in Africa
On August 26, 2019, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Nigeria-based youth civil society organization Yiaga Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at IFES headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The MoU was signed by IFES President and CEO Anthony Banbury and Yiaga Africa Executive Director Samson Itodo. This MoU formally launches a partnership between the two organizations, guided by their common mission to strengthen participatory democracy, human rights and civic participation on the African continent, with a particular focus on youth and electoral integrity.
Banbury remarked, “As IFES embarks on a new mission – together, we build democracies that deliver for all – we are excited to name Yiaga Africa as a partner on this journey.” The MoU comes at a time when youth are less engaged in political processes and are increasingly “opting out” of democratic systems due to unresponsive institutions, limited education opportunities and other barriers to youth participation in public life. Africa is home to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population, with 70 percent of the continent’s population younger than 30 years in age. The United Nations estimates that the global youth population will double by 2060, with most of this growth in sub-Saharan Africa. As such, increasing youth democratic participation in Africa is vital for continued democratic stability in the region.
“As IFES embarks on a new mission – together, we build democracies that deliver for all – we are excited to name Yiaga Africa as a partner on this journey.”
The partnership between IFES and Yiaga Africa will allow for increased coordination supporting youth engagement and democratic participation in Africa. Itodo stated that “the IFES-Yiaga Africa partnership is a demonstration of the commitment of both organizations to co-creation and co-implementation of new ideas geared towards promoting democracy and development.” In recent years, Yiaga Africa successfully conceived, lobbied and coordinated support for the passage of the Age Reduction Bill in Nigeria. This bill, also known as Not Too Young to Run, reduces the age limit for running for political office in Nigeria. Following this advocacy, the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of West African States adopted Not Too Young to Run as a global campaign.