The Road to Peace in West Africa Project
From 26 to 27 July 2019, thousands of young people from each one of the 54 African countries gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, for the 5th Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum (TEF FORUM), the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship community. Olusegun Charles VIDJANNAGNI, Founder of Benin Republic based FORAM Initiatives NGO and Chief Executive Officer of Beninnovations Magazine was officially invited by the TEF Forum organizers as a media partner. While there, he witnessed the unique resourcefulness, creativity and innovation African young women and men are endowed with. As he watched some of them share their ideas, as he toured the Africa largest entrepreneurial fair, and as he listened to speakers including Head of States, policymakers and business leaders, it became crystal clear to him that a peaceful nation creates the conditions to empower African youths, provide them with the right resources so that they are able to compete on the world stage and lift their families out of poverty.
23 Dec 2021

In order to tackle the rising unemployment and uncertain job prospects that prevent millions of young women and men in the subregion to fully play meaningful role in achieving Agendas 2030 and 2063, the World Bank, UN agencies, international organizations, American, Asian and European countries’ embassies to ECOWAS member States, foundations and philanthropists etcetera, are making significant investments in programs with the aim of equipping millions of young people with the skills to enhance their employability and entrepreneurial success. Consequently, startups are being created and demonstrating potential for sustainable job creation for women and other young people.

Despite progress made in empowering young women and men, promoting economic growth, consolidating democratic norms, reducing malaria, and protecting the environment, much of West Africa continues to suffer the devastating effects of conflict, democratic backsliding and post election violence (PEV). West Africa stands out on the global demography map; the region’s demography has attracted huge academic and policy interest in the last decade. This is linked to concerns over it’s increasing share of global population broadly, and more importantly, its high proportion of young people and its high fertility rates, and the implications of these factors for security, especially the incidence of violence. The presumed nexus between high youth population and the risk of violence is the underlying concern. According to the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region is projected to increase in population by over a billion in 2050.

The ‘Road to Peace in West Africa Alliance’ (RPWA) thus emerged as a sustainable platform with the aim to strengthen a regional movement for the culture of peace and non-violent presidential elections in West Africa.

The Alliance is led by FORAM Initiatives. Founded in 2011, FORAM Initiatives works to create the conditions for peaceful communities where children and teenagers, most importantly orphans and those from very poor backgrounds have access to quality education, and where young women and men acquire the training and skills that opens up opportunities for them in the present and in the future. FORAM Initiatives encourages a culture of resilience, autonomy, and sharing, notably through the participation of the youth in entrepreneurship programs. FORAM Initiatives is the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) representative and the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) host in Benin Republic. 

As presidential elections approach in Nigeria, we are set to use the country’s strategic position that confers the title of bellwether of the subregion on it and the fact that it has the largest youth population in West Africa, with 63% of its population under the age of 25, to officially launch the alliance through the Road to Peaceful 2023 Presidential Elections in Nigeria Project. The project overall goal is to strengthen the conditions for peaceful 2023 presidential elections in Nigeria as a guarantee for stability, regional integration and economic growth in West Africa. It covers the period of March to December 2022 and reinforces the implementation ofGoals 3, 4, 5, 8, 16and17of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 4th Aspiration of the African Union's Agenda 2063 of a peaceful and secure Africa. The project also contributes to the implementation of the Commitment of African Youth for the Culture of Peace, signed in 2019 by the prominent young leaders who participated in the first edition of the Biennale of Luanda.

Main activities include: (0) World Ball for Peace in West Africa Tour; (1) Envision a Peaceful Nigeria by 2030 Art Challenge; (2) Sport for Development and Peace Day; (3) Chess for Peace Tournaments; (4) Peace Football Gala Competition; (5) Peace Gala Reception ; Post event: Malaria Free Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Campaign.

We look forward to partner with everyone and every institution, UN Agency, government body, CSO, etc. for the success of this pioneer project.

Olusegun Vidjannagni

Acting Managing Director | GEN Benin

Olusegun has over ten years of experiences working with orphan and vulnerable children, teen-agers, young women and men in urban and rural… More