In 2025, Africa is set to become the greatest and youngest workforce in the world. This comes with high economic prospects if only the continent is prepared to reap the demographic dividends of the youths by leveraging their potentials to opportunities.
Reaping the demographic dividends of the youths can be achieved by inclusive growth as well as a skillset that notches the continent towards a sustainable transition to green growth in the energy and agricultural sector; learning from the experiences of the nations who have gone ahead. And to these two developmental sectors, water is vital either for food or energy. Feeding and engaging a growing young population necessitates a paradigm shift from predominant rainfed, labour-intensive, non-resilient agriculture to irrigated agriculture that ensures continuous engagement, offsets import by increasing food production with export potential and wealth creation from portraying agriculture in new lights as a business rather than a way of life.
Water is one of the world’s most important resources – the water challenges are becoming more complex and opportunities facing the experts of tomorrow will extend beyond those we are tackling today, with a growing need to be connected on a regional and global scale. Future challenges will require us to forge new technologies, develop appropriate policy, and adapt existing water resource management strategies to the impacts of climate change.
The International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) has taken the initiative of establishing the Young Professional’s Forum during the last years aimed at building the capacity of young professionals and creating a new generation capable for facing future water challenges, and this Forum is now an international platform for young irrigation and drainage professional with more than 300 members; mainstreaming youths towards the abundant lucrative opportunities in irrigation agriculture.
During the African Regional Working Group and the International Executive Council meetings in Mexico City, Mexico, 8-14 October 2017 it was discussed and agreed to establish the African Young Water Professional Forum (Af-YWPF) and to organise the 1st meeting of the forum in Egypt in 2018.
This Forum will bring together African future water industry leaders from the private sector, research and government around this central theme. This is a fantastic opportunity for water professionals to showcase their knowledge and contributions to sustainable water management in an international setting, discuss what they learned from their experiences, and to broaden the minds and thinking of new and experienced water professionals. Young water professionals see a lack of leadership and political will as a key barrier to transitioning to a circular economy. A lack of understanding and education follows this, and hence it becomes crucial for the water sector to step up and advocate for these key issues.
The 1st Forum will include workshops and seminars which hopes to challenge and inspire young water professionals within the continent about leadership in the research and innovative space and motivate their action. This will give them the opportunity to reflect on the skills and attributes they can bring to leadership in their different organisations, encourage innovative thinking and motivate the researchers among them. Its primary focus is to build skills needed globally and strengthen the ability of Af-YWPs to engage in forms of team leadership that are common in the water sector, whilst recognising that to address team leadership adequately; participants need first to build some foundation knowledge and skills.