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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So one of the most powerful facts is that in the next couple of years, by 2025, half of the population of Africa will be 25 years old or younger.  And as I’ve said as well, in the next couple of decades, one in four people on our planet will be African.

So Africa really is the future, and we’ve you’ve seen an example of that here today by the extraordinary work that young people are doing to help make sure that, as the Democratic Republic of the Congo heads into elections next year, that voters have the information they need to fully participate in elections, that misinformation is combated, and that this country can have a genuinely inclusive electoral process.  And I’ve got to say I am incredibly impressed by some of the projects that I was able to see today.

It’s a competition – I think everyone is a winner based on what I’ve seen – but it’s going to have a real impact on the elections next year.  And it’s so important that there be free, fair, and on‑time elections.  I think the DRC has an opportunity to set a powerful example – not just for the region, not just for the continent, but actually for the world at a time when we see some real challenges to democracy around the world.

So it was incredibly encouraging to see this.  I’m very excited to see who actually wins the competition, but as I said, everything I saw was a winner.  Incredibly impressive – it’s going to make a real difference in for participation.  It’s going to make a real difference for the confidence that people have in the integrity of the elections.

Even as we’re seeing these projects, we’ve seen just in the last 24 hours a possible setback to the importance of having the right environment for elections and the civic space with the detention of a opposition political leader.  We’re trying to get more facts.  We’ve raised this with our colleagues among – in the government here.  We have full respect for the laws of the DRC, but we are concerned about any steps taken that could actually reduce the political space, especially as the country heads into elections.  So it’s something that we’ll be looking at.

But for today, as well, I’ve just got to say how wonderful it is to see not only these projects, but just to see the engagement of a rising generation of Congolese in the democratic process.  That really is the future of this country.  It’s also the future of the continent and something that it’s very, very inspiring to be able to witness.  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future