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Reflections from the Africa Youth Connect Summit by Seleyian Partoip

I consider myself a proactive youth, yes I never sit and wait for opportunities, instead I seek them out and get the best out of any that comes my way, I am passionate about child protection, youth and women empowerment for meaningful and sustainable development.

That’s just me in a nutshell.

When the Africa Youth Connect banner popped on a YouTube video I was watching I was tempted to dismiss it as I do all other adverts, however something caught my attention forcing me to pose the video and click on the link, there I got the information about the summit and that it was the 2nd one. How on earth did I miss the first one? Anyway there was no time to regret the past and bundles are of essence to any young person, so I started filling the application. The organizers understand young people because all they required are quick short answers to the few questions on the for, 3 weeks later I received a confirmation of my acceptance to the summit!

I started planning my trip, first I will need time off work so I informed my supervisor, he was excited for the opportunity then I planned my travel, the one advantage of being an east African is that I did not require the tedious visa process to travel to Kigali, the next item on my agenda was mode of travel, bus or air. I reached out to a friend who was supporting my travel and he gave me a choice of travelling by air and staying at a budget hotel or travelling by bus and staying at a 5-star hotel. I chose the air travel option. To cut the long story short I arrived in Kigali on Saturday Night, they had a stand at the airport to receive delegates and facilitate transport to their hotels.

The next day was the registration day and collection of badges. The Africa Youth Connect Summit attracts up to 3000 youths from around the world. The summit was partially funded, therefore the 3000 youths only had to cater for their travel and accommodation. It helps that Rwandese are well organized and strict with procedures so all logistics run smoothly. As usual we started making friends taking selfies as we toured the Kigali Convention Centre. On average a young person takes a minimum of 20 selfies at a function, and at least 2 throughout the day on a normal day, (I thought you should know). The next day, the summit began with a colorful opening ceremony. There was a display of the African flags and inspiring music and dance from young Artists, now that is how to start off a youth summit! Music is the language of youth.

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The Africa Youth Connect Summit is an annual youth conference organized by the Ministry of youth in Rwanda in partnership with the African Union and the UNDP. The event attracts many partners at a global level. The summit also convenes over 3000 youth leaders in different professions around the world. The theme of this year’s summit’s was ‘Africa begins with me’ inspiring young people to work together to advance the achievement of goals for youths in the AU charter and the SDGs. If you belong to the school of thought that the youth are unmotivated, lazy and unconcerned with development but only passively waiting for handout, you need to attend the next Africa youth connect summit, where you meet the young game changers changing the narrative and challenging the stereotypes.

My highlights from the AYCS were, the youthful energy represented from all over the African continent and beyondGreat plenary sessions unlocking innovation and creativity, the conversations around the youth agenda the facilitators insisted they were speaking at us not to us or over usA focus on possibilities and recognition on youth players towards the realization of the SDGsThe visit to a comprehensive youth center that incorporated sports, arts, and ICT in building the skills of the youthAccess to resources, skills development and a location to promote talent and creativity.

The night concert caped my AYCS experience and the next day we convened at the Kigali convention center for the closing ceremony. My take home, ‘I have to visualize the world I want, the Africa I want and work every day towards achieving that vision because Change begins with me and Africa Begins with me’


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