Social Media Week 2014: Young People and the Challenges of Living in Big Cities

The social media is a veritable internet-based media used for facilitating social interaction and networking among people. Through the sharing of pictures, videos, audio, music and text, developments and events around the world is disseminated within the shortest possible time, to a large population and at the least cost.

Researches have shown that young people are the most active users of the social media because of the vary attractive outlook and the social bunding it facilitates among them. As such governments, non-governmental organizations, international development agencies. Business organizations and the mass media who intend to target young audiences find the social media as a veritable platform to deliver their content.

It is therefore not out of place that the 2014 Social Media Week (SMW) was organized by HEDA Resource Centre at the Lagos Travel In, in Ikeja, Lagos State to review three fundamental issues: transportation, housing and food, with a view to examining how programmes and policies of government, the private sector and other stakeholders promote youths interests and facilitate their effective participation.

A one-day Stakeholders Forum was organized as one of the key activities of the SMW. The event was organized to facilitate robust dialogue between policy makers and the youths with a view to enhancing better understanding of the issues discussed, identify key interest and needs of the youths within the three sectors and forster possible areas of participatory partnerships for the promotion of sustainable growth and development.

The event featured top officials of the Lagos state government including the Honourable Commissioner for Transport, Honourable Commissioner for Agric and Cooperative, Special Adviser to the Governor on Information and Strategy, as well as a former Commissioner for Transport and the Environment and now National Legal Adviser to the All People’s Congress (APC). Other participants included  students drawn from various tertiary institutions in Lagos state, young professionals from all relevant sectors, persons with disabilities (PWDs), the media and some very senior and accomplished professionals who were invited to provide mentorship for the youths. Some International Development Agencies were also present at the event.

The one-day forum was drawn into three main sessions, with each session focusing on each of the three sectors. Each session had Pannelists drawn from all stakeholders including government, private sector, international development agencies, the media and persons with disabilities. Other participants were effectively engaged in the discussions through robust plenary sessions.

The event was very sensitive to issues of gender and social inclusion; providing equal opportunities to the effective participation of vulnerable groups including women and girls and persons with disabilities. Besides playing key roles as Moderators of panel sessions and making significant input during plenaries, discussions highlighted how the three sectors impact on vulnerable people and proposals made on how more inclusion can be attained in the three sectors.

Discussions at the forum acknowledged that availability, affordability and access to transportation, housing and food have been recognized as some of the key challenges confronting big cities across the world. Young persons who constitute more than 50% of all city populations and who are regarded as the most active and productive segment of the population are mostly affected by these challenges; thus, leading to drastic reduction in their productive capacities.

The Forum also observed that Lagos State as a mega city is not exempted from the obvious inadequacies of transport, housing and food. It has become a daily experience for Lagosians to face heavy traffic, contend with very exorbitant house rents and ever-increasing cost of food.

Participants at the forum unanimously agreed that young persons including men and women as well as persons with disabilities in Lagos state are finding these sectoral challenges too enormous to cope with. They demand more innovative, inclusive and participatory policy approaches towards resolving these challenges

Participants at the one-day forum resolved that:

  • Lagos state government should partner with private sector to develop an effective, efficient, multi-modal, integrated, inclusive and accessible transportation system which must be available and affordable to all citizens;
  • Lagos State government should review its housing policies; particularly the Tenancy Law and the on-going Lagos Homes project to ensure that they are objective, realistic, sustainable, affordable and accessible to all persons irrespective of their socio-economic and disability status;
  • Lagos State Government should develop policies that will enhance effective communication channels and deliver appropriate capacity-building programmes to engage with small scale farmers and attract young persons into the agric sector with a view to increasing food production;
  • Policies should be made to encourage private sector investment in food processing and other agro-allied industries to improve the value chain in food production.