By Bernice Bessey
Louis Kuukpen, Assistant Country Director, Programme, in an interview, told the media after the project launch this week in Accra that it was designed to support countries that want to roll out the policy to help the youth.
According to him, in Rwanda, the UNDP partnered the government to roll out the YouthConnekt platform as a virtue and physical platform of connecting the youth, giving the opportunity and platform to peer-mentor themselves, and also to learn from the global knowledge and skills that are available.
“So the YouthConnect platform that we have launched in Ghana today is the replication of the effort that UNDP has been supporting within the African sub-region. Basically, in Ghana want we intend to use this platform to achieve is to create the environment where [the] youth can look up for learning innovations and ideas that are within the globe
“It connects them to other countries, and to mentors, by giving them the opportunity to peer-review themselves,” he said.
He indicated that the role of the UNDP is basically connecting the knowledge and skills, and since UNDP is present in 170 countries across the globe, this gives them the opportunity to tap onto their network of knowledge and talents to bring to the benefit to the people and youth of Ghana.
“For our role, as the UNDP, is in two folds, one – help Ghana establish the YouthConnekt platform; two – to continue to provide technical platform and professional skills that they can connect and leverage on that, and also to expand the benefits of this platform,” he added.
Mr Kuukppen described YouthConnekt as a living platform that the UNDP has established and is expected bring together more than 300,000 youth each year.
The Assistant Director stated that the platform is now under the custody of the National Youth Authority, and they expect the government and development partners to come on deck to support a sustainable roll out,
He assured the youth that the available support for them on the platform comes in financial, technical, and mentorship, and the UNDP is currently looking for volunteer mentors who will agree to mentor the youth.
The UNDP is bent on providing this programme, because it considers young people to be change-makers, innovators and critical thinkers, since they are deeply embedded within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which also recognise the need to empower the youth and engage their active participation in their implementation.
“UNDP believes in the power of the youth to transform the economy of Ghana and to build a more prosperous and sustainable nation. We believe to invest in our youth and co-create with them, and support them to realise their potential and seize their own opportunities,” he emphasised.
Curtis Perry Okudzeto, Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, on his part, commended the NYA and UNDP for their strong collaboration to introduce the Ghana version of YouthConnekt.
He revealed that the launch was possible, because the Minister for Youth and Sports, Isaac Asiamah, had the opportunity to learn, at first-hand, the innovative design and implementation of YouthConnekt in Rwanda, where young people had been equipped with the skills, network and information needed to scale up their initiatives and gain meaningful employment.
“The Ministry of Youth and Sports is fully committed to the objectives of the YouthConnekt concept, this is because Africa’s greatest resource, and for that matter Ghana, is its teeming youthful population,” Mr Okudzeto stressed.
However, he acknowledged that young people are faced with myriads of challenges, such as limited access to education, mentorship, finance, employment opportunities, and healthcare among others.
These challenges hinder the capacity of young people to engage in the socio-economic transformation of Ghana and Africa, and further stifle efforts aimed at achieving the core objectives of Agenda 2963 of the African Union, and the 2030 Global Development Agenda.
“YouthConnekt is, therefore, a crucial platform in contributing towards empowering young people to play their role in our nation‘s socioeconomic transformation,” he added.
Emmanuel Sin-Nyet Asigri, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NYA, added that the platform would create space for young people to freely express their opinion, and debate with their peers and with policy makers on issues that affect their lives.
He said the authority partnered the UNDP because it is focused on developing the creative potential of the youth, and imbue them with the spirit of nationalism and sense of priority and responsibility.