Up to 30 million youth from across Africa are set to benefit from a new Mastercard Foundation initiative, Young Africa Works Strategy, which was officially unveiled in Kigali yesterday.
The ambitious strategy is aimed at reducing poverty and tackling youth unemployment in Africa, particularly by empowering those with innovative ideas.
According to the Foundation, the long-term commitment seeks to bring more young people within the workforce by equipping them with necessary and required resources that will enable them to thrive.
“Today is the launch of Mastercard Foundation’s new strategy that will impact millions of lives of young people across the continent. Rwanda is the first country where we will be implementing this strategy,” Reeta Roy, the chief executive officer and president of Mastercard Foundation, told the participants at the launch.
The strategy, Roy said, will enable 30 million young people, especially young women, to acquire dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.
The Foundation’s president also said they are doubling their investment in the country.
“The young people have a greatest stake in our work. We will be working with entrepreneurs to access the capital that they need to become the job-creators we want them to be,” Roy noted.
Africa is the youngest and fastest-growing continent in the world. But it has one of the highest unemployment rates, particularly for young people.
Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, who officiated at the launch, reiterated the Government’s commitment towards making the new strategy successful, saying it was well-aligned with the country’s strategy for transformation.
“The Government is fully committed to working with the Foundation’s team to achieve the targets of this strategy,” the premier said.
The launch was also graced by various ministers, including the Minister for Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, Minister of Trade and Industry, Vincent Munyeshyaka, and the Minister of Education, Eugene Mutimura.
It is estimated that, by 2030, there will be more than 375 million people under the age of 35 in the labour market.
Munyeshyaka noted that such a strategy would clearly define what the future of Africa will be if the young people are empowered.
USD100 million for Rwanda
In Rwanda, the Foundation unveiled two programmes and committed to invest $100 million (about Rwf85.1 billion) in the next five years.
Hanga Ahazaza, translated as “Create the Future”, is one of the initiatives. It will equip 30,000 youths with customer service, information and communication technology, digital literacy skills as well as provide on-the-job training.
The programme will also support small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector through increased access to financial services and business development skills. The industry is projected to create 150,000 jobs in Rwanda over the next decade.
The second initiative, Leaders in Teaching, seeks to support delivery of high quality, relevant secondary school education. This particular initiative will see the foundation establish its first pan-African ‘Regional Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning’ in Rwanda.
The centre will focus on integration of ICT in teaching and learning, officials said.
According to Peter Materu, the Foundation’s chief programmes officer, the initiative will benefit at least 250,000 secondary school students, equipping them with ICT training and professional development skills.
To contribute to the country’s ongoing work in ICT, the official revealed that the Foundation will also set up a smart model classroom in every district of the country.
To date, close to 1.75 million Rwandans have benefited from the Foundation’s work.
Eliabu Habimana is one of the beneficiaries. Known by his customers as Kadaffi, the young entrepreneur runs a bakery and small fast food restaurant in Nyakabanda in Nyarugenge District.
Kadaffi is a graduate of Akazi Kanoze programme, which is funded by Mastercard Foundation. He currently runs it with four employees having started working alone day and night and upgraded later.
He moved from being a casual labourer to employing himself. Today his shop attends to over 100 customers daily.