The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, yesterday, challenged regional youth to build their creative and innovative thinking skills in order to help develop Africa.
The First Lady made the remarks at the opening of a youth forum that brought together young people from Rwanda and the region, under the theme ‘Ambassadors of Change – It Starts with You.’
The forum was organised by Imbuto Foundation in partnership with UN Women, to facilitate the creative exchange of ideas, solutions and projects by youth organisations in Rwanda and the region.
The forum attracted youth from Burundi, DRC, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Tanzania alongside their Rwandan counterparts.
She said that it was imperative that the youth focus on building their creative and innovative skills as several governments and institutions around the continent have now acknowledged their role towards championing global change and innovation.
The First Lady explained that the youth cannot be ignored because of their demographic composition.
“The majority of Africa’s population is below the age of 30 years, and in Rwanda, the youth represent the largest demographic group which is 75 percent of the total population, and an estimated 83 percent of these youth are economically active,” she said.
Mrs. Kagame emphasised that it is up to each and every youth to think innovatively, competitively and out of the box.
“Sometimes, I think that the beauty of the youth lies in the reality that because many young people are not as cautious as the older generation, they often attempt the impossible, and very often achieve it,” the First Lady said, adding that the youth have so much power to bring awareness, prevention and change.
She took them back through history and said that Africans have endured unending problems dating back to slavery, colonialism and imperialism.
“Our governments, economies and people continue to be used as pawns in the interest of external forces, and we continue to pay the price. This has to end,” Mrs Kagame said.
She emphasized that it was up to today’s generation to change what many think is permanent and help Africa unleash her true potential.
Present at the forum were a number of successful young people who shared their inspirational stories.
Kariuki Gathitu, the CEO of Zege Technologies, an IT company based in Kenya, urged them to turn the enormous challenges that Africa faces into opportunities.
“You are packed with potential, and when this potential meets with need, you are able to come up with something tangible and developmental,” he told the youth.
In the same spirit, Cynthia Mosunmola Umori, the founder of Honeysuckles PTL Ventures in Nigeria, told the youth to take charge and move forward if Africa is to advance.
She urged them to identify business opportunities around
“We have to reach to a point where opportunity meets preparedness,” she said, emphasising the need for the youth to always be prepared and ready to take on new challenges.
Participants included university students and young professionals involved in areas of leadership, entrepreneurship and development.