African leaders from the public and private sectors have pledged to support Africa’s youth innovative projects at the ongoing YouthConnekt Africa Summit which kicked off on Thursday in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
“The Africa we want is one led by healthy, ambitious, empowered, creative, innovative, educated youth; so to get to this dream state, we must look at the full developmental picture, leaving no problem unattended,” said Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame Friday while addressing the youth.
She mentioned the need to holistically uplift youth, so that the future is bright for them, so that less of them “identify with anxiety for the future and even depression.”
During the three-day summit, leaders from the public, private and civil society organizations participated in plenary and roundtable discussions where they shared messages of encouragement to the youth.
Tapera Muzira, coordinator of jobs for youth in Africa initiative at the African Development Bank (AfDB) said Friday “There is a problem of getting appropriate financial products. We need institutions delivering for entrepreneurs; we are committed to establish these institutions so that we can move away from the worry about collateral.”
Such new institutions will be charged with mobilizing sufficient capital for business expansion for youth entrepreneurs, he said, adding that such institutions would be fully designed to meet specific needs of entrepreneurs not catered for under current funding systems.
“When there’s an opportunity, youth need to strategize without fear. We need to lift the potential of young Africans to ensure that they benefit from the inclusion of youth in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and Industry.
Discussions of the participants centered on enabling Africa’s youth to be part of an inclusive and resilient Africa by creating an environment that allows them to provide innovative solutions and ideas for the continent’s development.
The summit is Africa’s largest annual youth summit. It is a continental initiative with the mission to empower young people by enhancing their knowledge, experiences and skills while investing in their ideas, innovations and initiatives to harness Africa’s demographic dividend.
The theme of this year’s summit is “Accelerating Investments in Youth: Resilient Youth, Resilient Africa.”
There are more than 226 million people aged from 15 to 24 on the continent, according to the UN.