African youth have challenged leaders to change their mindset and have the political will to empower them, provide minimum sources of initial funding for innovators and invest in youth programmes across the continent.
On Monday October 8, YouthKonnekt 2018 kicked off in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
More than 2500 African Youth attended the annual 2018 edition of YouthConnekt Africa Summit – Africa’s largest youth gathering, under the theme “Connecting youth for continental transformation.”
Participants from across the continent highlighted several issues the continent faces and demanded high attention on young Africans as drivers of change.
“We need African leaders to start investing in youth, there is no policy for us without us. How can you run a ministry of youth when you’re not a youth? This is a reality and we have to address it the way it is,” said Dr. Tamara Kaunda, a granddaughter of Zambia’s first President Kenneth Kaunda.
A medical doctor from China, Dr. Tamara Kaunda abandoned her medical profession and switched to farming which she says was the best venture to help curb biting poverty in her country.
Like Dr. Tamara, Atlas Mara Co-founder Ashish Thakkar said that the youth should take advantage of the challenges on the continent to create an opportunity and create what Africa needs.
“There should be a firm policy on local data centers to be able to not only predict but coordinate, because we are going to have a big population in ten years and this is the time to act on the future,” Ashish told delegates.
After a successful impact on youth employment and innovation, YouthConnekt Africa has been adopted as an African youth programme to be expanded to all 54 countries on the continent.
Launched in Rwanda in 2012, YouthConnekt has been embraced for its innovative design and implementation, providing youth with the skills, networks and information needed to scale their initiatives and gain meaningful employment.
In Rwanda alone, the programme has engaged over four million youth, created 6,000 jobs and provided 540 youth with the entrepreneurial and social innovation to mention few.
To date, seven countries have already launched YouthConnekt and many others are in the process of implementing the model – including Liberia, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Sierra Leone, and Gambia.
“Based on this model several African countries have launched YouthConnekt programme and others are on their way to join. We have Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and others who have expressed interest in having this programme,” said Rosemary Mbabazi, Rwanda’s Minister of Youth during the launch of YouthConnekt 2018 at Radisson Blu and Convention Centre.
The two-day summit was officially opened by Prime Minister Dr. Edourd Ngirente. At the summit, also launched was the YouthConnekt Africa Hub and Fund.
The YCA Hub and Fund, mandated by the 2017 YCA Summit, will serve as a coordination entity to connect and promote existing youth empowerment initiatives at the continental level and provide young innovators with the necessary skills.
The Fund will increase access to finance and technical assistance for scalable youth-led venture, increase equity growth capital and catalyze technical assistance to increase the skills and knowledge of youth entrepreneurs.
PM Ngirente called African youth to use YouthConnekt Hubs to effectively design the scale-up model for YouthConnekt, facilitate national, regional and continental events, and lobby for more coherent and inclusive youth empowerment policy and programs.
This year’s Summit will have youth-oriented side event such as YouthConnekt 4 Trade, JobConnekt & GigKorner, Connekted Innovators, YouthKonverse, Face the Gorilla, and The Innovative Race.