Young Zambians Connect with African Youth Towards Building a Borderless Africa

The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Arts and UNDP Take 8 Young Zambians to Kenya for YouthConnekt Africa

December 20, 2023
An image of Zambian Youths holding the Zambian flag in Kenya

From the left Lweendo Syabwengo (UNDP Youth Programme Associate); Clivate Maiba (Innovator - Denga Health); Henrietta Milimo (Innovator - Mwezya Womens Club); Sharon Wekwete (UNDP Youth Programme Specialist); Tizione Ngoma (Entreprenuer); Moses Mwale (Innovator - Mini-Waste Disposal); Muyunda Kaonga (Innovator - Ebusaka Green Technology)

Image captured by: Vanessa Wematu Akibate/UNDP Zambia

Around 20,000 young innovators and entrepreneurs from all over Africa have gathered in Kenya to attend the YouthConneckt Africa Summit. The Pan-African platform that empowers youth from across the continent with information, skills, experiences, and networks was initiated by President Kagame of Rwanda, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the respective Ministries of Youth in 32 countries. YouthConnekt acts as a catalyst for young people to engage one another, as well as key decision-makers and continental powerhouses on investing in their ideas, innovations, and initiatives. Zambia, which boasts of a youthful population is represented by the Ministry of Youth Sport and Arts, and 8 young Zambian innovators and entrepreneurs.

Under the theme, “Youth Innovating a Borderless African Renaissance”, the Zambian delegation had the opportunity to connect with youth, youth Ministries and businesses from all over Africa, facilitating exchanges of experiences and ideas that will enhance efforts by the Ministry and partners to address youth unemployment, job creation, sports, and creative arts programmes in each nation.

An image of speakers at a UNV panel in Youth Connects Africa

Speakers on the UN Volunteers panel discussing "Imagine if everyone did volunteer for a Borderless Africa Renaissance". From left to right, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Arts Zambia, Kangwa Chileshe; Youth Volunteerism Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Samuel Turay; African UN Youth Fellow - Uganda, Amabel Sanyu Tumwebaze; Regional Manager to the UN Volunteers East and Southern Africa Regional Office, Lucy Ndungu; Assistant Director - Youth Programmes to the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts in Zambia, Mable Beene Nedziwe; Communications and Advocacy Advisor - VSO Zimbabwe, Tracy Sibanda; Special Needs Education and Disability Inclusion Expert - UNICEF Kenya, Nahashon Njuguna

Image captured by: Vanessa Wematu Akibate/UNDP Zambia

Over the 4-day event, which officially kicked off on the 8th of December, the youth entrepreneurs and innovators engaged with leaders, pan-African organisations and companies, and fellow youth leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators from across the continent. Through panel discussions, interactive sessions, and exhibitions that tackled innovation for the digital era, civic participation, inclusive governance, youth leadership, trade, innovation, gender inequality and access to finance, amongst many other topics. Through YouthConnekt, young people are expressing their voices to build a borderless Africa as an avenue for not only expanding their innovations and skills but also to ensure market access.

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Arts, Hon. Elvis Chisala Nkandu M.P., the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry, Mr Kangwa Chileshe and the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ethel Bangwayo, accompanied the youth delegates from Zambia and participated in several key side events that are geared towards enhancing efforts to reduce youth unemployment rates and increase the skills and knowledge capacity of the sports and arts sectors in Zambia.

At a Ministerial Steering Committee Meeting held on the 10th of December, Hon. Elvis Chisala Nkandu addressed other Ministers of Youth, Sports, and the Arts from across the continent, noting:

“As Youth Ministers from Africa, we play a key role in providing an opportunity for our youth to amplify their voices”
— Hon Elvis Nkandu, MP, Minister of Youth, Sport and Arts

The Permanent Secretary, Mr Kangwa Chileshe also addressed youth from across Africa as a keynote speaker in a UN Volunteers led panel under the theme “Imagine If Everyone Did Volunteer for a Borderless African Renaissance”. In his remarks, he highlighted the power that volunteerism has to shape the future of Africa and to address unemployment rates in the country and beyond, declaring:

“Collective volunteering empowers African youth to have a stronger voice in advocating for positive change. Through their combined efforts, they can address issues such as social justice, equality, and human rights more effectively.” He further noted that, “Volunteering also offers a platform for young people to take initiative, make decisions, and contribute meaningfully to society. This experience can boost their confidence and belief in their ability to bring about positive change”.

The Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Arts, is currently implementing a Joint Programme on Youth with the support of the United Nations in Zambia, to test viable solutions that can form the basis for accelerating employment creation and empowerment of young women and men in Zambia. One such mechanism is the Interns, Volunteers, Apprentices, and Graduates (IVAG) programme. Since its launch in April 2022, 2040 Zambian youths from all 116 districts have been recruited under the programme, empowering them with skills and work experience through placements in government and across UN agencies. 

The Minister explained, “volunteering also offers a platform for young people to take initiative, make decisions, and contribute meaningfully to society. This experience can boost their confidence and belief in their ability to bring about positive change.”

Both UNDP and Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts are hopeful that the youth who attended the event will benefit greatly from the networks they are building with their fellow African youths and leaders. The Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP, Ms Ethel Bangwayo, stated, “We hope that young people will take the lessons that they learn here, the conversations that they participate in, and the partnerships that they start to build here, back home to Zambia, to share with other young Zambians and to enhance their capacity to innovate towards a borderless African Renaissance”.

“I have had a great experience being here, I have met quite a lot of people. The interesting thing is there are people from every sector… I have had interactions with my fellow youths that have really inspired me to do more”, shares Mwewa Mulonga, a Zambian youth entrepreneur, who attended the summit.