Geoffrey Prewitt, Chief of UNV’s Development Programming Section, participates in the high-level panel “Youth Driving SDGs” during the YouthConnekt Africa Summit. (Tchegoun Koba, 2017)
Geoffrey Prewitt, Chief of UNV’s Development Programming Section, participates in the high-level panel “Youth Driving SDGs” during the YouthConnekt Africa Summit. (Tchegoun Koba, 2017)

UNV a key partner for the empowerment of African youth

The YouthConnekt Africa Summit (YCA), a continental youth programme for the region, is taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, from 19 to 21 July. More than 3,000 delegates from 90 countries across Africa and beyond are participating in the Summit supported by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

The YouthConnekt Africa Summit (YCA) provides a unique opportunity that brings together development partners under one roof to discuss evidence-based interventions that empower youth. Volunteerism is at the heart of the Summit, where youth volunteer platforms and volunteer mobilization are advocated as key strategies to channel the energy and innovative spirit of youth in the region to accelerate Africa’s progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Learning from the UNDP innovation award-winning YouthConnekt Rwanda, launched in 2012, the overall goal of YouthConnekt Africa is to empower young people so that they are free to become active agents of change within their nations and communities. Through volunteerism, youth can improve their employability and their active participation in peacebuilding and development initiatives to promote national reconciliation and inclusive economic growth.

The Summit is launching the YouthConnekt Africa Hub, an initiative that provides regional coordination and technical support to the YouthConnekt Africa programmes at the national level, seeking South-South synergies and enhancing the exchange of best practices throughout the continent. UNV is considering supporting the management structure of the Hub to enhance its potential to coordinate youth empowerment initiatives through national and regional volunteer platforms.

UNV’s participation is critical for positioning volunteerism and leading discussions on youth volunteer initiatives in Africa. In the high-level panel “Youth Driving SDGs,” Geoffrey Prewitt, Chief of UNV’s Development Programming Section, discussed how youth volunteerism provided potential pathways for youth employability skills, participation and involvement in empowerment activities.

Today more than one billion people around the world freely volunteer their time to contribute to efforts that support the implementation of the SDGs. But, what is so beautiful about this world? It doesn’t know age, it doesn’t know gender, it doesn’t make a distinction between able-bodiedness, or ethnicity, or religion. This volunteer world doesn’t have boundaries, it is truly inclusive and universal. Volunteers embody the principles of the SDGs, leave nobody behind, get engaged! --Geoffrey Prewitt, Chief of UNV’s Development Programming Section

Beyond the Summit, UNV will be a key partner in the roll-out of the YouthConnekt initiative in pilot countries of Africa. Jointly with UNDP, national governments and development partners, the Initiative will mobilize more than 200 UN Volunteers (a mix of international, national and online UN Volunteers) with more than 500 local volunteers, to work in 10 countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, eSwatini [formerly Swaziland], Uganda and Zimbabwe.

UNV supported directly the organization of the Summit. 20 youth conference volunteers sponsored by UNV produced promotional materials, raised awareness of the need for youth empowerment among participants, and took care of the Summit's logistics.

UNV pledges to offer ongoing support to the YouthConnekt Africa programme by supporting the creation of youth volunteer infrastructure schemes and other youth empowerment initiatives in the region.