Four Africans are among sixteen innovators, activists and entrepreneurs from 12 countries that have been shortlisted for this year’s Commonwealth youth awards, organisers said.
The awards recognise young people whose innovative projects have made a real impact in helping their countries achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and received more than 500 entries from 40 countries.
All 16 finalists will each receive a trophy, a certificate and £1 000 to expand the scope of their projects. The winners in each of the award’s four regional categories will earn a trip to London to attend a ceremony on March 11 and receive another £3 000. The overall pan-Commonwealth winner will take home a total of £5 000.
“With now only 10 years remaining to implement the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the Commonwealth takes great pleasure in bringing these young people’s invaluable efforts to the global stage so their leadership can inspire others and accelerate meaningful youth participation,” the grouping’s head of social policy development Layne Robinson said.
“Their talent paired with tangible solutions sends a strong signal that they should be equal partners in the development agenda, not passive allies.”
The 2020 finalists include Joshua Ebin from Nigeria, who founded Jumela Limited, an agro-technology venture which specialises in the production of plant-based compost and novel agro-products for crop production farmers in the West African country.
The venture aims to tackle poor food waste management, pollution problems and low agricultural yield and has so far produced two metric tonnes of compost for sale to national clients and created jobs for more than 25 workers.
Galabuzi Kakembo from Uganda is the founder of WEYE Clean Energy, a social enterprise that produces and sells eco-friendly blocks of compressed charcoal made from biodegradable plastics and organic waste to homes, schools and local institutions.
Profits are used to fund community outreach programmes and training for young people and women in smart agriculture and the enterprise’s work has reached more than 800 women and young people, of which 600 are now earning income from making charcoal blocks or recycling plastic waste.
Tanzania’s Salvatory Kessy set up an online platform which matches low-cost qualified and vetted tutors to students interested in learning basic skills such as numeracy, literacy, computing, agriculture and languages.
The offline platform, called SmartClass, allows users to book face-to-face tuition through a text and the group tuition model allows learners to book tutors collectively and reduce costs. It has 5,000 active registered tutors and 20,000 learners in Tanzania.
The fourth finalist from Africa is Kenyan Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti, founder of the Green Generation Initiative which promotes environmental education and food security in schools, particularly by encouraging a tree growing culture and through its ‘adopt a tree’ campaign.
The initiative has so far helped plant 30,000 tree seedlings in more than 40 schools. In addition, more than 20,000 school children have been trained to be environmentally conscious across seven Kenyan counties.
Other finalists for the Commonwealth youth awards are from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Guyana, Canada, Jamaica, Fiji and Samoa.