Youthconnekt Summit in Kigali, Rwanda raises prospects for youth-led innovation and investment

The Rwandan capital, Kigali was host to over 2500 delegates for the 2017 Youth Connekt Africa Summit from the 19th to the 21st of July organized by the Rwandan ICT Ministry and a host of partners in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) under their “Prosperity for all” campaign.

“This was a unique platform that brought together government officials, international experts, investors, entreprenuers, youth leaders and strong partners that AAIN identifies with in working towards the creation of dependable jobs and wealth for the youth in Africa through opportunities presented by agribusiness.”- Dr Alex Ariho, CEO of the African Agribusiness Incubators Network while in Kigali after the summit.

Above: Key speakers in a group photo at the summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

Strong commitments for a brighter future

In his speech at the summit, H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda reiterated the need to increase investment in the youth as foundation for growth in Africa.

“The problem of youth empowerment is urgent and   difficult everywhere and not just in Afrca. Iyts is also not a new problem. Only that we had worse challenges to deal with in the past relating to our very surviaial. But almost every country in Afrcia has made tremendous gains in well-being over the past generation. The task of sustaining this progress falls on the youth of Africa.”H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda.

The need to fast-track efforts aimed at creating jobs for the youth in Africa was highlighted by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye the UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa.

“Our Conference has put before us a series of questions so fundamental, that they demand answers from all of us before we leave here today — how do we create, in Africa, and by 2020, some 50 million jobs, to absorb the growing labour force; and how do we give space and opportunity to unleash the creative potential of the over 220 million youth on this continent? How do transform our economies, significantly improve youth employment, and set our continent on a sturdy path to achieve the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Africa We Want!”-Abdoulaye Mar Dieye the UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa.

The Summit also included a series of panel discussions on job creation in various sectors of the economy to redeem the youth employment situation.

Left to right: Diane Karusisi the CEO Bank of Kigali, Vera Songwe the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Tony Elumelu the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and Akinwumi Adesina the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) during the session on job creation for the youth targeting 50 million jobs by the year 2020.

The panel discussions were supplemented by speeches by key guest speakers including Jack Ma the Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group who called on the youth to pick lessons from business failure as basis for building stronger businesses and Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, an American-born Senegalese musician who urged the older generations to strengthen mentorship of younger generations in Africa.

UNCTAD surveys indicate that from 1995 to 2014 Africa reached annual average growth of 6% for arrivals and 9% for international tourism receipts and tourism export revenues. UNCTAD was represented by Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi the Secretary-General.

Above: American-born Senegalese musician Akon urged the older generations to strengthen mentorship of younger generations in Africa.

The Summit was hinged on the trend indicated by research where Africa is host to more than 226 million people aged between 15 and 24, having the youngest population, but also the highest youth unemployment rate in the world estimated at 60%.