Youth Connekt is perhaps the most effective Youth Empowerment / Job Creation Summit Africa – or the world! – has ever seen. Started in Rwanda in 2012, it has now grown to have iterations in 24 African countries – and in several countries elsewhere in the world. An initiative of UNDP and KOICA with the Government of Rwanda – it’s genius is in the preparation and follow-up processes. If you read the Introductory Brochure or watch the UNDP explanatory slide show, you will see how it all starts with the Bootcamps – and proceeds up through regional and national meetings to the international summit which, this year, gathered 10,000 young entrepreneurs in Kigali. Next year, it will gather a similar number in Addis Ababa at the AU Headquarters. Youth Connekt focuses on concrete outcomes: it has a fund to support viable business plans; it includes trainings and mentorships. It also speaks to a youth concern which governments usually ignore but which young people often feel is the most important concern: how to help young people get a decent, life-fulfilling job, not just a way of earning money. This was the best session at this year’s Youth Connekt: “How to make Profit from your Passion!” – introduced by Didier Drogba who, of course, has made millions from his passion: football!
A key highlight of every Youth Connekt in Rwanda is the 2-hour Q & A with the President – in which youth put challenging questions to Paul Kagame – and he answered as honestly and fully as he could. Any other country hosting the summit must have the same commitment from its President to answer all questions from his/her youth population. One of many magnificent precedents set in Rwanda.