YouthConnekt Hangout scoops UNDP innovation award

Rwanda’s YouthConnekt Hangout has won the first prize at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa's innovation fair in South Africa. The platform uses Google hangout technology in combination with other social media channels and SMS to connect young people to role models, resources, skills,  entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.

YouthConnekt was initiated by the Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT) in 2012 as a platform to connect young Rwandans and increase their participation in the country’s socio-economic transformation. The initiative has since spun off a number of well-established programs such the YouthConnekt Dialogue and YouthConnekt Awards.

The hangouts sessions will be focusing on sharing information on opportunities for youth economic empowerment through employment, entrepreneurship, access to finance, Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). In addition, youth personal development as well as social and political empowerment will be promoted. Yong people will also use the platform to contribute to ongoing policy discussions at national and international levels, with a focus on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

The Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, urged the youth to explore new and seize the available opportunities. “We want to build an active and innovative community that is confident in its ability to solve its own challenges by making a smart use of the abundant opportunities around us” he said. He emphasized that ideas exchange would boost the youth’s critical thinking and innovation capabilities. “We are focusing on developing the youth because they are the future and are more innovative while taking on community challenges and turning them into opportunities”.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Lamin M. Manneh, said: “Building the skills of young people, harnessing their energy, and realizing their aspirations will help Rwanda improving its living standards and igniting inclusive economic growth. Empowering them with opportunities to reach and applying their full potential are both our most important challenges and our most vital opportunities”.

Both the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2) of the Government of Rwanda and the UN roadmap for the new development agenda after the MDGs expire in 2015 identify Youth employment and Inclusive Growth as one of the major shifts that need to happen to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods.

They stress the importance of diversified economies, with equal opportunities for all, to drive social inclusion, especially for young people, by harnessing innovation, technology, and the potential of business.

The award winning YouthConnekt Hangout brings together various partners including UNDP, ADMA, TIGO, Zilencio Creativo and HeHe Ltd to create a platform for youth, government, development partners, private sector and civil society to connect youth to opportunities for their personal and socio-economic development. 

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