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On February 24, 2017, following the official launch by Heads of State and Government during the Summit in Addis Ababa, the Republic of Congo became the first African nation to launch the  African Union’s theme for 2017: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth.

Under the auspices of the Office of the President, the event took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital of Congo, Brazzaville and was marked by several highlights such as inspirational speeches from H.E. Henri Djombo, Minister of State and Agriculture (representing the Prime Minister), the Minister of Youth and Civic Education, the African Union, UNFPA, as well as Medina Zola representing the country’s youth.

In his opening remarks and on behalf of the African Union Commission, Dr. Mahama Ouedraogo, Acting Director of the Human Resources, Science and Technology Department, said "the potential of young Africans knows no limits or barriers. Education, especially in science and technology, its health, its capacity for innovation and the socio-political environment will determine its potential and its contribution to socio-economic development at all levels."  

Additionally, Mrs  Barbara  Laurenceau, UNFPA Representative to Congo,  stated  that “when a large number of adolescents and young people get bogged down in a trajectory characterized by poor health, interrupted education, limited capacities and opportunities, the population as a whole cannot benefit from a dividend demographic.”

The ceremony was further marked by the distribution of checks aimed to support various youth projects, as well as a performance by the Congolese national gymnastics team. Hundreds of young people passionate to learn more about youth empowerment attended, as did some 10 ministers. The event was organized by the Ministry of youth and civic education in collaboration with UNFPA Congo.