11 December 2012

Rwanda: 3000 Rwandan Youth Gathers for National YouthConnekt Convention

About 3,000 Rwandan youth from all over the country and from Diaspora will today meet in Kigali for the first National YouthConnekt.

The National YouthConnekt Convention - an annual gathering - brings together youth representatives for four main activities: The YouthConnekt awards, where the best start-up in Rwanda, selected from the top 3 in every district will be rewarded; YouthConnekt poster exhibition to showcase one best start-up (innovator) by district; YouthConnekt mentorship network to recognize the top 3 successful entrepreneurs from each district to kick-off a mentorship program, and formulation of key recommendations to be presented at the National Dialogue.

"This is an opportunity to encourage our youth to contribute to self and national development," said Philibert Nsengimana, the minister of youth and ICT (MYICT) during a press brief yesterday. He added that it is a moment to gather ideas from the youth in order to include them in national development programs.

"Our first aim is to make them understand that self-reliance through innovation is key to their success and national (economic) growth."

The ministry in partnership with Rwanda's Commercial Bank (BCR) and other partners will reward the best innovator with Rwf 3 million, and give RWf 500,000 top the 30 best innovators at district level.

"This is a way of stimulating the youth towards working hard and bring in more and more innovative ideas," said Minister Nsengimana.

The best innovators from all over the country are now in a boot camp where they are undergoing a training on how they can transform their innovations into business in order to create more jobs, expand and gain more benefits.

Concerning the mentorship network, the minister said this will be composed of experienced innovators who will be charge with mentoring those new starters and help them grow bigger.

"These mentors will come from groups like UMURINZI young professionals," stated Nsengimana.

The youth in the convention will also discuss ideas to be brought to National Dialogue (to be hosted on the 13th and 14th December) by their representatives.

"We think that the voices from some of them, especially those from remote areas were not heard in the previous national dialogues. The ideas they will gather in their convention will be more inclusive," said the minister.

Rose-Mary Mbabazi, the permanent secretary in MYICT said the youth have to understand that they are not second class citizens.

"They are first class citizens whose first duty is to contribute to national development through self-sustainability. Through innovation that's possible."

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