Generation17: Boosting development through technology and innovation

Posted May 17, 2022

Generation17 young leaders Thuy Anh Ngo of Viet Nam, Nora Altwaijri of Saudi Arabia and Tafara Makaza of Zimbabwe

On 17 May, we observe World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD). Technology is part of our present and future, so this international day aims to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies. The global pandemic affected the 2030 Agenda, and its socio-economic impacts will continue for decades. Still, we can say that ICT has proved to be a key resource to respond to these consequences and accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Today, three young leaders share their reflections on this day. Thuy Anh Ngo, from Viet Nam, will share her passion for supporting elderly people with technology. From Saudi Arabia, Nora Altwaijri explains why communication technologies are so crucial in our daily lives. And from Rwanda, Tafara Makaza, who has recently moved after graduating from college, will share his experience as a tech-entrepreneur that wants to give access to better work opportunities to Africa’s largest working population.

Digital technology serving older people: Thuy Anh Ngo, Viet Nam

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thuy Anh Ngo witnessed the disproportionate effects of the virus on the elderly population. Determined to ensure that no one was left behind, she developed HASU, a mobile app that equips the elderly with physical, emotional, and social health resources. 

"It is widely recognized that new technologies, particularly ICTs, are significantly impacting economic and social relationships among individuals, communities, and nations. High-speed telecommunications have also become a major driving force of globalization in the capital, labour, and product markets. Not only can we connect with anyone at any time at a distance, but we can also do various tasks conveniently, such as learning, doing research, working and with other teams remotely.

Recognizing the undeniable importance of technology to our lives as young entrepreneurs, I wondered how it could also help older adults improve their quality of life. COVID-19 made me realize how elderly people were isolated, especially when almost all the connections and regular means of entertainment were cut off. Unlike other young people who find it easy to use modern technology because they have grown up using it, older people need to pick up new technology at their own pace. They need lots of help and support from younger generations and society, to be empowered and feel confident to step into a modern virtual world."

Youth & technology: Nora Altwaijri, Saudi Arabia

Nora Altwaijri’s passion for digital technology brought her to create the Sustainable University Initiative. It aims to build a digital platform that educates young people about the importance of the Global Goals and connects them to the resources they need to engage in these challenges.

"We live in an ever-evolving world thanks to the efforts put into research and development of solutions that advance it. After the COVID-19 breakdown, the world forced us to heavily depend on those solutions to protect ourselves from the pandemic while proceeding with our day-to-day tasks. Those daily activities range from simple instant messaging to sophisticated financial transactions and identity verification. In Saudi Arabia we rely on digital wallets for payment and digital platforms for appointment booking and queuing. There is a mobile app for almost anything. Even a platform to access all official documents related to health, education, passport, and driving licenses. Information and Communication Technologies help us live in a well-connected world in the most convenient way possible. The fact that it never stops growing is amazing. Nonetheless, it requires constant learning and evolution, mainly led by young social entrepreneurs. They are active members of society with a fresh eye on its challenges and the need for a better future. It is a great opportunity for young people to unleash their creative energy in the form of innovative digital ideas that reflect our day-to-day challenges with a futuristic touch."

Technology to guarantee long term employment in Africa: Tafara Makaza, Zimbabwe, now living in Rwanda

When Tafara Makaza sees a problem, he works relentlessly to solve it. He learned to code and launched two apps with a friend--a ride-sharing service and a platform that matches workers with one-off jobs. When he discovered ride-sharing apps, he knew instantly how to drive change himself.

“In college, while studying astrophysics, I solved problems in the stars, but today, I am solving problems on the ground. Together with my college peers, I founded a startup called Fixa. It's on a mission to improve the lives of informal workers across Africa. Imagine you are an informal worker in Kigali, Rwanda. Every morning, you wake up before the sun rises and spend 12 or more hours looking for work. You cannot afford a smartphone to look for job opportunities online, and you don’t have a resume. If you are lucky, you get hired for a day's work with no guarantee of long-term employment, no health and safety insurance, no pension, and worse, no record of your work. Unfortunately, this is the reality for over 70 percent of workers in Rwanda, and about 80 percent of workers on the African continent.

Fixa is here to change that. Fixa is a digital staffing agency headquartered in both US and Rwanda. It leverages technologies such as data science and fintech to connect Africa's informal workers to formal job opportunities. Launched in January 2022, Fixa has connected people with more than 10,000 jobs and has registered over 600 informal workers.

However, we have faced some challenges in our mission to provide decent work for Africa's largest working population. The digital divide in Africa is still very prevalent, and this is evident with our workers who can only afford feature phones. We are integrating SMS and USSD solutions to solve this challenge of communicating and to share job opportunities with our workers.

Fixa enables a world where informal workers become a part of the formal economy. We provide our pool of workers with a work and earnings history. This data is utilized to grant our workers access to a career identity, micro-loans, health insurance, and long-term saving schemes.”

 

Generation17 supports a group of inspiring young leaders aged 18 to 32 dedicated to innovating for humanity and mobilizing global communities. To learn more about this initiative and meet the Generation17 young leaders, the visionaries, advocates and entrepreneurs building a better future, visit generation17.undp.org