President William Ruto took center stage at the 6th Youth Connekt Africa Summit, held at the Kenya International Convention Centre (KICC), urging hundreds of African youth to become stewards of environmental sustainability and embrace innovation for a borderless African renaissance.
The summit, themed “Youth Innovating a Borderless African Renaissance,” brought together leaders, innovators, artists, students, ministers of youth, government officials, AU Commission leaders, and development partners. President Ruto, along with Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru, and Sports and Youth Affairs CS Ababu Namwamba, underscored the importance of African youth in driving the continent’s social and economic transformation.
President Ruto emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change, stating, “The planet is in a crisis, with Africa unfortunately bearing the brunt of its effects.” He called on the youth to champion environmental stewardship, delve into renewable energy, promote sustainable agriculture, and contribute to climate-resilient infrastructure.
Acknowledging the challenges Africa faces, President Ruto asserted, “We are in a new process of forming a new Africa, one that is founded on a rock-solid belief in our own capacity.” He encouraged the youth to lead in developing sustainable solutions to combat climate change and adapt to the evolving global job market, increasingly shifting toward virtual and technology-driven roles.
During the summit, President Ruto also recognized the importance of aligning the education system with the realities of the modern job market. He presented certificates to graduates who successfully completed free online courses at Arizona State University, emphasizing the need for continuous learning and skills development.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua echoed the call for youth leadership, urging them to take space in all spheres of influence. “We want to urge you to take leadership in all spheres of influence and not just in matters of innovation and tech space,” he said.
In a refreshing departure from their usual formal attire, both President Ruto and Deputy President Gachagua embraced a more casual and approachable style, resonating with the youthful energy of the event. The President opted for a smart-casual look with blue jeans, a well-fitted shirt, and sneakers, while Deputy President Gachagua sported a laid-back white tracksuit with gold accents.
The 6th edition of the Youth Connekt Africa Summit, hosted and sponsored by the Government of Kenya in collaboration with the YouthConnekt Africa Hub and UNDP, aims to empower young African leaders. Over 20,000 participants, including young people, government officials, corporate leaders, and development champions, are expected to attend, engaging in policy discussions, storytelling, networking, and entrepreneur-focused programs.
On the sidelines of the summit, the Minister of Youth in the Government of National Unity, Fathallah Al-Zunni, participated in the 8th ministerial meeting of the Steering Committee of the Youth Communication Organization. The meeting reviewed the 2030 strategic plan for the organization, which operates in 32 African countries, and welcomed Libya’s participation in the summit for the first time.
Kirinyaga County Governor Ann Waiguru, also present at the summit, emphasized the need to open up job opportunities for young women, particularly young mothers. Addressing restrictions hindering women’s access to work, Governor Waiguru stated, “Restrictions that have traditionally been there…we loosen those restrictions to allow young women to have access to work, whether they are working from home, especially young mothers.”
The Youth Connekt Africa Summit 2023 stands as a beacon of hope for Africa’s young generation, fostering a collective vision for a continent that embraces sustainable development, innovation, and inclusive opportunities. President Ruto’s call for youth leadership and environmental stewardship resonates as a rallying cry for the transformative change needed to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.