The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. D. Zeogar Wilson, says the YouthConnekt initiative is new to Liberia; as such the opportunity for funding is limited. In a statement delivered on Wednesday, June 6, 2018, at a two-day YouthConnekt 3rd Steering Committee Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Minister Wilson said, “As we speak we are in the process of rolling out the initiative to create a national buy-in by all sectors, government, civil society organizations, local and international NGOs, foreign missions and corporate institution and others.” The conference was held June 5-6, 2018.
This initiative, he said, also requires support, technical, financial and even moral, calling the many and diverse partners to become advocates of the initiative.
According to him, the rollout of the program will create the kind of national awareness that will increase funding opportunity for the program and create the kind of resources that will give the success we all envisioned.
Despite the challenges, Minister Wilson the Liberia’s YouthConnekt initiative, with assistance from the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa and the UNDP Liberia, has made some marks
Following the launch of the program, more than 150 youth from five Counties (Montserrado, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Bomi & Bong) of the 15 counties participated in the launch exercise of the program.
He further told the gathering implementation of two of the six components of the program (iForum & Youth month) with more than 150 youth from the five counties participating in the forum via internet through the use of Google Hangout. The Median edition of the forum focused on accountability and the fight against corruption by young people.
The Youth & Sports Minister revealed that more than 75 youth in the capital city of Liberia participated in the cleanup exercise that sought to give the city a face-lift
Minister Wilson also outlined the establishment of an Innovation Center and Digital Learning Room. The innovation center and digital learning room is a one-stop center for peer learning and engagement, youth entrepreneurship training and development and a space for networking for the youth of Paynesville and its environs. It is housed at the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
“Our vision is to expand the center to counties using our various youth centers across the country. There’s an ongoing assessment of the capacity of our youth centers across the country through a UNDP project, we hope that this assessment will inform our ability to establish similar initiative in each county/center,” he maintained.
He disclosed that President George Weah has begun the process of continuing where his predecessor stopped. Minister Wilson noted that Weah’s election as President ‘is a testimony to the fact that every Liberian, irrespective of social, economic, religious and political persuasions can aspire to become who they want to be under a free competition of ideas’.
The Liberia’s Youth & Sports Minister noted that the youth of Liberia look at the President as the ultimate hope, and for some even the last hope for change in their lives, adding that “our promises in the campaign reinforced the notion of quick gains for the youth, yet the enormity of the challenge we inherited does not support our expectations”.
He said the government is engaging the youth, to manage their expectations, keep the hope alive, inviting them to work with for a better future.
YouthConnekt, he averred, could as well be that Marshall Plan that would assist in meeting the expectations of this expectant and yet impatient segment of our population.
“My tenure as Youth and Sports Minister is less than five months old and yet I am inspired by the resilience of the young people of Liberia. I wish to acknowledge that I am also inspired by the desire of our young people to make impact on our society and their passion to do something for themselves to improve their lives and that of their families,” the Minister intoned.
He explained that the YouthConnekt Liberia program is one of the many initiatives that they inherited from their predecessor. Their assessment of the program, its impact and methodology show that not only did their predecessor lay a good foundation for the successful implementation of the program but that the program’s objectives are in line with President Weah’s vision for the young people, now being articulated in a Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
Minister Wilson used the occasion to commend Rwanda for allowing Liberia to be a part of the initiative and to provide the role modeling. “Let me also thank all of our partners for their continuous support to the youth of Liberia and the continent in general,” he added, recognizing the efforts of his colleague youth ministers from other countries that are working tirelessly to make Africa a better place and the next generation a great and productive one.
Meanwhile, Minister Wilson has declared President Weah as a possible champion for the initiative across Africa; saying, “His celebrity credentials speak for themselves and he remains an icon for young people all over the continent and beyond. He will surely be ready to score goals for YouthConnekt Africa.”
The Vision is: “Connecting African Youth for Socio-Economic Transformation.”