Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat, represented the agency at the inaugural YouthConnekt Africa Summit 2017 from July 19 – 21 held in Kigali, Rwanda.

The summit, which was hosted by His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, brought together international government leaders, multinational business executives, youth entrepreneurs, artists and youth opinion leaders to tap into Africa’s enormous potential by connecting youth with the skills, education and opportunities they need to become “a new generation of problem solvers.”

More than 2,500 delegates from over 90 countries attended the summit to exchange ideas and explore ways to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) and strategic partnerships to unlock the potential of youth and connect them with the endless opportunities that Africa has to offer. The summit also featured the launch of the YouthConnekt Africa Hub and the YouthConnekt Africa Empowerment Fund.

Within the context of the conference’s theme, “From Potential to Success”, Dr. Kacyira participated in a ministerial roundtable with African and international leaders on how to use ICTs to engage young people and lift them out of poverty.

Dr. Kacyira stressed the importance of partnerships, programmes and policy in addressing the urgent need to help youth to become problem-solvers and support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda. “Local governments and policy influencers must draw from these partnerships and projects to understand what institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks are required,” she added.

This summit provided an opportunity to shine a spotlight on The Innovate Counties Challenge Programme, housed in the Youth and Livelihood Unit at UN-Habitat. The Innovate Counties Challenge engages urban youth to identify problems and empowers them to develop innovative ICT solutions, such as developing a drone system to transfer insulin between hospitals or using ICTs to regulate public bus services in Kenya and increase revenue collection for bus owners and consequently local governments.

Rwanda has focused on youth and ICTs in its Vision 2020 programme to become a middle-income country by 2020. The YouthConnekt Africa 2017 Summit and initiatives by organisations such as UN-Habitat support these objectives by giving youth a voice in determining what affects their welfare and providing them with skills that allow them to create jobs for themselves.