The acting Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP), Ms. Rokya Ye Dieng, has urged development actors, especially the private sector to support efforts to empower young people and engage them in active participation in development processes towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She made the call in a key note address delivered at the official launch of YouthConnekt Ghana, which is a UNDP initiative to empower the youth with entrepreneurial skills.
Ms. Dieng noted that, globally, the youth are mostly faced with unemployment challenges that affect their meaningful contributions. Citing statistics, she said in 2015, only 60 percent of the youth aged between 15 and 35 years old were formally employed, while the remaining 40 percent remained unemployed. The launch of the YouthConnekt initiative in Ghana, she noted, aims to invest in the youth towards inclusive development.
“Young people are changemakers and UNDP believes in their power to transform the economy of Ghana. We believe in the need to invest in our youth and co- create with them a space which will support them to realize their potential and seize their own opportunities.” Ms. Dieng noted.
The UNDP YouthConnekt initiative is a combination of physical and virtual platform that will link-up various youth innovations and creativity in areas such as ICT, entrepreneurship, agri-business and civic engagement. The platform seeks to empower young people through the acquisition of up-to-date skills and training to promote employment, entrepreneurship opportunities, connect them with leaders and role models as well as facilitate peer exchange of ideas to shape a better future for the youth.
Mr. Emmanuel Sin-Nyet Asigri, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority (NYA) in an address revealed that the YouthConnekt concept perfectly fits into the core mandate of NYA in ensuring that young people effectively participate in decision making at all levels of Ghana’s socio- economic development. He urged young people to make good use of the platform as a new form of engagement to strengthen their voice and role in nation building.
“For youth initiatives to survive in the 21st century, it is through building networks and unions with strong voices as presented by the platform. Make use of the opportunity”,” Mr. Asigri emphasized.
The YouthConnekt platform is a highly successful initiative launched in 2012 by the Government of Rwanda through its Ministry of Youth and ICT, and UNDP. In line with the One UN’s Youth 2030 strategy, the initiative is currently being scaled-up by UNDP in Africa to empower the youth to contribute to the achievement of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the SDGs, especially goal 1 (no poverty), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure).
The launch of the Ghana platform is a partnership between the Government of Ghana represented by National Youth Authority and UNDP Ghana. The event gathered young participants from across the 16 Regions of Ghana to discuss the theme, “Connecting the Youth of Ghana for Continental transformation through Innovation and Creativity”.