The YouthConnekt programme, initiated in 2012 by the Government of Rwanda and UNDP, has been recognized as a practical and effective solution to develop and harness the potential of the largest age demographic in Rwanda—the youth. After several years of success in providing skills training and facilitating entrepreneurship and job creation for youth, the programme is scaling-up with the generous support of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
The signing ceremony on May 16th, 2019 marked the beginning of a four-year (2019-2022) agreement between UNDP, UNFPA, Rwanda’s Ministry of Youth, and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). During the next four years, KOICA has committed to support the scaling-up of the YouthConnekt initiative with a budget of USD $7,500,000 (approximately RWF 6.8 billion). UNDP, UNFPA and the Government of Rwanda will contribute an additional USD $4.5 million to the programme. With this support, YouthConnekt will expand in three main areas—increasing youth (girls and boys) access to decent jobs in Rwanda, empowering youth to fully engage in policy-making and civic activities and increasing the number of youth using health services and adopting healthy lifestyle practices.
During the ceremony which was held at Rwanda’s Ministry of Youth, Honorable Minister of Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, acknowledged the right timing of this partnership and its importance to the country’s efforts to empower the youth and reduce youth unemployment which are key objectives of the National Strategy for Transformation. “The partnership has come at the right moment as the country strives to reduce unemployment among the youth so that Rwanda can reap big from the demographic dividend. The programme will not only focus on job creation but also other components like engaging the youth in policy making, civic education and access to better healthcare. We have thus expanded our partnership with experienced partners like UNFPA and the Imbuto Foundation who work in these areas.”
Speaking at the same ceremony Resident Representative of UNDP Rwanda, Stephen Rodriques, stated that, “our aim is to help create more than 20,000 decent jobs by providing technical and financial support to youth and young entrepreneurs”. The job creation and entrepreneurship component of the programme will support youth from across the country, including rural youth, youth in TVET and higher learning institutions, young women, young people with disabilities, youth in the arts and creative industry, and young entrepreneurs in national incubators and accelerator programmes. It will seek to tackle unemployment and underemployment within the youth population in Rwanda.
UNFPA Representative, H.E Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, UNDP Resident Representative, Hon Minister of Youth, KOICA Country Director, NIRDA Director General and Liquid Telecom CEO
His Excellency the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Rwanda, Kim Eung-Joong, further acknowledged the importance of investing in the skills and knowledge of youth for the development of Rwanda. He stated that, “With a series of innovative and powerful activities of the YouthConnekt Initiative, I sincerely believe that the project will empower Rwandan young people and connect them with their peers, leaders from both the public and private sector, and the civil society to forge partnerships which provide employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to youth.”
For several years KOICA has been a strong and committed partner of the One UN family in Rwanda. This four-year agreement represents a strengthening of the partnership between the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Korea, as well as with international organizations and the private sector. The agreement signals a strong commitment to the development of youth in Rwanda focusing on education and skills development, economic and social opportunities, civic engagement, and health. With the contribution from KOICA, the YouthConnekt programme will be able to implement new initiatives as well as expand existing ones, further empowering the youth of Rwanda to live dignified lives with decent, meaningful work.
UNDP Rwanda looks forward to strengthening partnerships with likeminded development organizations to help Rwanda achieve its vision 2050, ensuring high standards of living for all and that no one is left behind.