Youth and ICTs

Helping young people have a voice through innovative use of ICTs - a key theme for the Commonwealth

The population of the Commonwealth is 2.3 billion people, one third of the world’s population. If there is one overarching characteristic of this family of 54 nations, it is that the population of the Commonwealth is young; more than half of Commonwealth citizens are under the age of 25 and one quarter are under the age of 5 years old. This young population means that issues concerning youth are of paramount importance to all Commonwealth stakeholders, now and in the near future.

The young people of the Commonwealth are central to its future development. The CTO works to ensure that ICTs can assist in releasing the inherent potential of the Commonwealth’s youth, so that their energy, innovation, drive and desire to question the status quo are realised. At the same time,  there are many challenges and threats, both natural and human, that prevent many young people fulfilling their potential through the use of ICTs. The CTO works to protect young people from threats and challenges in their use of ICTs. Much of this work involves empowering young people, so that they are better able to protect themselves, but it also involves working to creating synergies with those stakeholders and organisations that work to ensure young people are protected.

The CTO seeks both to host events specifically in its niche areas, and also to include niche aspects within its mainstream event. This was typified by the youth element that was included in the CTO’s e-Gov Africa conference hosted in Botswana in March 2012, in the hackathon at our Annual Forum in Mauritius in October 2012, and in the youth session at our Annual Forum in Abuja in 2013.  These indicate clearly that the CTO is keen to encourage active youth participation at many of our events. We were also delighted to support the ITU’s Global Youth Summit, BYND 2015, that was held in Costa Rica from 9-11 September 2013, and we encourage everyone to read the resultant 2013 Costa Rica Declaration.

The Youth theme closely overlaps with the  CTO’s work on Cybersecurity, particularly on Child Online Protection, as well as our work on skills development and entrepreneurship.