He delivered a keynote address at the South African Institute of International Affairs Young Leaders Conference 2016, held in Johannesburg, on Monday.
“Your role and your actions will be instrumental in placing young people at the centre of the continuous development of the African development agenda.
“Whilst the rest of the world is aging, a youthful Africa has to take advantage of the potential demographic dividend that is brought about by this youth bulge,” he said.
The future of the continent, which in Agenda 2063, begins with the implementation of the basic tenets of the African Youth Charter.
He said youth are well placed to begin to lobby for the review of the implementation of the key articles of the African Youth Charter.
“As we meet here today, there are still countries that are yet to ratify, or even to sign, the African Youth Charter and therefore creating doubt about their commitment to youth development and empowerment,” he said.
Ecopreneur opportunities for youth
He said the green economy and more particularly, participation in the green economy, are an important global matter that is gaining traction amongst developed and developing countries.
According to the Deputy Minister, at least nine of the 17 recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals relate directly to the green economy and the environment.
“In 2006, more than 2.3 million people worldwide were working in the renewable energy sector. The recycling industry in Brazil, China and the USA alone employs at least 12 million people.
“Processing recyclable materials sustains ten times more jobs than landfill or incineration (on a per tonne basis),” said the Deputy Minister.
He said ecotourism has a 20% annual growth rate, which is about six times the rate for the rest of the sector.
“Emerging economies’ share of global investment in renewables rose from 29% in 2007 to 40% in 2008, primarily in Brazil, China and India.
“Only 25% of the world’s waste is recovered or recycled. The world market for waste is worth around $410 billion a year,” he said.
He said there is a growing demand globally for renewable energy solutions, technologies and products.
“This demand is the direct result of the challenges relating to addressing climate change, promoting sustainability and improving environmental quality.
“As a result, there is a rise in opportunities for environmental entrepreneurs or ‘ecopreneurs’. Note that I said ‘ecopreneurs’ and not ‘tenderpreneurs’. Who will step up to be the ecopreneurs of South Africa?” asked the Deputy Minister.