Highlights of UNDP Africa Chief’s visit to Rwanda

Jul 27, 2017

To formally kick-off the start of the YouthConnekt Africa Summit, the RBA Director, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, visited Rwanda from 15 to 21 July 2017. During his visit, the Director met with key constituents (the Senior Government officials, young entrepreneurs and the Civil Society Organisations) to discuss prospects for the new development agenda for Africa, and continued UNDP-Rwanda partnership to support the YouthConnekt initiative and other programmes. Highlights of this mission include a participation to the YouthConnekt Africa Summit 2017 themed “from potential to success”; meeting UNDP development partners, as well as the UN Country Team in Rwanda to discuss about the role of the UN in the country’s development. 

The overall objective of the Summit was to establish commitments and partnerships to scale up the YouthConnekt from a country-based to regional and subsequently continental Initiative, with a Regional Hub and a regional innovation and empowerment Fund established in Kigali. 

Prior to the commencement of the YouthConnekt Africa Summit 2017, the Regional Director for UNDP Africa, Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye met young men and women entrepreneurs who graduated from the YouthConnekt boot camp located in different corners of Rwanda and exchanged with them to understand how some of 40, 000 young Rwandese who have so far benefited from the YouthConnekt programme are progressing with their businesses. 

Mr. Mar, the Director of UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa paying a visit to Cephas a youth connekt winner

In Western Rwanda, a district called Musanze, the Director met Cephas Nshimyumuremyi, a science teacher and young entrepreneur with a passion to serve his community. Cephas makes cosmetic products out of traditional plants. He uses his knowledge in science to create products that heal some common diseases in his community. In 2013, he applied to the YouthConnekt Boot Camp, and was the first-place winner and won 3 million Rwf (less than 4000 US$). He used the winnings from his award to build his factory. Today, he employs 15 full-time staff members. 

Also in Rubavu district, some 50 kilometers west of Musanze, Mr. Dieye met Assumpta Uwamariya, a 27-old girl. Realizing that farmers in her community were growing a large amount of beetroot without a market ready and willing to support them, she decided to produce tasty and affordable wine from locally cultivated beetroot. Assumpta won the 2016 YouthConnekt award, which rewards the best young innovator in Rwanda. With her 5 million Rwf (about 6000 US$) she expanded her business. Today, she employs 10 permanent workers and provides 30 temporary jobs in her community, mostly women.

Moved by what he saw and heard from Assumpta and Cephas, Mr. Dieye applauded the young entrepreneurs for the great job they are doing to tackle the current unemployment situation. In the same line, the Director further said that the new generation of innovators and problem- solvers of Rwanda epitomize the transformational power of ideas and commitments. That with their creativity, ingenuity and acquired skills, they have shown the way to conquer the future. 

Cephas and Assumpta are, with no doubt, the Tony Elumelu, Folorunsho Alakija, and Dangote of tomorrow. The leadership, creativity, and commitment seeds are planted in them; they will blossom. Their stories show that with ideas, innovation, and passion, our Youth can realize their dreams and make Africa the El Dorado”. Mr. Dieye said. 

In the same week, the Director held talks with Rwanda’s Senior Government officials including the President H.E. Paul Kagame, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Hon. Claver Gatete, the Minister of Youth and ICT Hon. Jean Philbert Nsengimana and the CEO of the Rwanda Governance Board Professor Anastase Shyaka.

During the meeting with the President Paul Kagame, the Director discussed growth opportunities in African markets, and the role of the UN in Rwanda, and offered the UN/ UNDP’s continued support. There was also an outline on possible ways the Regional Bureau for Africa could partner with the SDG Center for Africa and on scaling the YouthConnekt continentally.

Among other important talks with the Government officials, Mr. Dieye exchanged views with the Minister of Youth and ICT ahead of the Youth Connekt Africa Summit and discussed the partnership between UNDP and the Government of Rwanda in scaling up YouthConnekt across the continent.  The Director expressed his appreciation to the government of Rwanda for an enormously successful summit as well as for starting a movement to change the present and the future of the youth of the continent. He further reaffirmed UNDP’s partnership with the Government of Rwanda to establish the YouthConnekt Regional Hub and a Youth Empowerment Fund that will support the coordination and implementation of policies and programmes for youth development. 

Mr. Mar meeting with UNDP Rwanda Country office staff

The Director also seized the opportunity to meet the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Rwanda. At this occasion, Mr. Mar mentioned the important role Rwanda is playing as a Delivering as One (DaO) country and the necessity to keep on supporting the country’s development agenda, the domestication of the SDGs in a more coordinated, coherent, efficient and effective manner. He also took the opportunity to hold a meeting with UNDP’s Development Partners where he called for strengthened partnership to support the development agenda. He also noted that all these elements should be aligned with the principle of “leaving no one behind”. 

During the meeting with UNDP Rwanda Staff, the Director commended the team’s dedication and high performance and delivery in their daily work. The satisfaction with the CO’s delivery was also expressed by the Development Partners and the government of Rwanda. In his Keynote address during the opening of the first session of YouthConnekt Africa Summit dubbed ‘How do we get to 50 million jobs by 2020!’, Mr. Dieye urged African leaders to unleash the creative energy of Africa’s youth. He emphasized the YouthConnekt Africa Summit as an opportunity to chart a collective way forward, with strong commitments to open up space and create 50 million jobs by 2020, 10 million of which should come from YouthConnekt. 

If we all meet our commitments, our gathering today, with more than 6,000 youth subscribers, will not be just another meeting. It will be a movement! A movement which I see as a performance contract, or Imihigo, as we say in Rwanda. A contract between us all, stakeholders, to support our youth in conquering the future… Let me be their Ambassador by emphatically re-echoing what most of them told me:give us the space; and we will give you the world!”. Mr. Dieye said. 

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