--Faced with the challenges of youth living on edge of poverty, the government of Rwanda has stepped up and hosted the Transform Africa Summits. This series of summits seeks to advance technological innovation across Africa, through focusing on unlocking the innovation of youth in jobs and technology with the goal of improving their and their communities lives.
Building cities of the future provides opportunities for youth to use technologies and develop relevant innovations; to create their own jobs. The Youth Connect session, held during the Transform Africa Summit, brought together the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT, Republic of Rwanda, and representatives of youth, the private sector and the United Nations. The goal of the session was to explore the opportunities on the frontiers of technology with regards to youth development.
In a message to the participants, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said: “We need a new generation of problem solvers, who see further and work smarter.
Africa is not as prosperous as it should be because our cities are too small and disconnected. This situation is changing rapidly and Africa looks set to emerge as one of the planet’s great centres of growth, innovation, and opportunity in the generations ahead.
One of the focuses of the session became how the innovative potential of youth could be harnessed. The government of Rwanda has launched the YouthConnekt programme in response as a way to unlock Rwandan youths potential. YouthConnekt is a platform that aims at bringing youth in touch among themselves and between them and public, private, civil society and international organizations that work to promote youth's civic and socio-economic development. Since its launch in May 2013, more than 40,000 youth in Rwanda and abroad have participated in YouthConnekts Google Hangouts and other programmes.
Another initiative of the Gobernment of Rwanda and UN-Habitat is the One Stop Youth Reouces Centres based in Kimisigara, Rwanda. Through this Centre over 300,000 youth since its inception in 2011 have accessed a range of programmes and other services such as ICT training and health services.
It has been recognized that developing technological solutions for cities without as well advancing the technological knowledge and capacity of the citizenry does not bring about sustainable change. UN-Habitat believes that creating “smart citizens” in parallel to the creation of smart cities is the first step in developing sustainable and inclusive cities.
The high rate of youth unemployment is a major challenge for Africa. Despite the strong growth performance of Africa economies, the continent has been unable to create sufficient jobs in both the formal and informal sector for youth. Nine out of ten working youth in sub-Saharan Africa are poor or near poor, and yet the working-age urban population now supports more family members than comparative populations elsewhere. It is estimated that 800 million youth live on less than US $2 a day and only about 4.2 million have access to financial services. It is projected that globally 470 million more jobs are needed now globally for new entrants to the labor market between 2016 and 2030.