Young IPS reporters joined young entrepreneurs from around the world in Cotonou, Benin, in October to share knowledge and mark the launch of the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN).
IPS Africa, with support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), provided reporters with multimedia skills to promote innovative coverage of agriculture targeted at the youth.
They then participated at four-day event titled “Youth Entrepreneurs – Agents of Change” which was organised by IFAD and the Phelps Stokes Fund.
Mohamed Béavogui, Director of IFAD’s West and Central Africa Division said the event was a way to bring young people together in order to “define with them their objectives and strategies to improve the quality of their lives”.
“IFAD’s role is to create the right conditions so that young people remain in their rural communities to lead a more successful life for themselves and their families,” said Béavogui.
The fair focused on agricultural businesses, innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership.
Roxanna Samii from IFAD’s communication division described the participants as “future leaders” who there needed to be aware of agricultural issues: “The young of today are the policy makers of tomorrow. One of the things that are needed are good policies – this is why we are targeting young people because they are the future leaders,” Samii said.
Youth unemployment is one of the key challenges faced by young people worldwide. It is estimated that 60 per cent of the total unemployed people in sub-Saharan Africa are between 15 and 24 years.
“Agriculture offers the single largest opportunity for job creation,” Béavogui added. “At the same time you have this large pool of dynamic young people, waiting and eager to find jobs to build better lives for themselves. It is only natural for IFAD to bring these together to ensure that tomorrow’s workforce will be able to feed tomorrow’s world.”
At the IPS Africa workshop, journalists were taught multimedia skills such as how to combine images, text and sound in order to tell a story.
The training also highlighted the importance of social media in disseminating information. As a practical example, IPS facilitated a “tweet-up” with speakers Pape Samb, director of Phelps Stokes’ Program in Africa and Ndaya Beltchika, IFAD’s programme manager for Benin.
Journalists were able to tweet the discussion between the speakers – allowing IPS Africa followers across the continent to follow and re-tweet the discussions.
At the tweet up Beltchicka said that IFAD was putting the power into young people’s hands for them to come up with solutions.
“ [It’s] time to bring the young people to the table so that they are part of the solution, rather than just be at receiving end, we are putting young people in the driver’s seat.”
Samb highlighted the importance of listening to and investing in young people. He added that it was good to see young people taking an active role in their futures.
“We see that young people are committed to take their future and destiny in their hands. This is really reassuring,” said Samb adding that “the youth have the idea to work together in a partnership; they don’t only expect help from the government.”
Samii described the tweet-up was a great success.
The Journalists also accompanied the group of young people to visit the Songhai Regional Centre for Excellence in Porto Novo. Songhai is a large and successful farming business where local resources, especially agricultural wastes, are utilized through simple and cheap technology in order to produce electricity, bio fuel, animal feeds and manure, among others.
The aim of the trip was to show young people what could be achieved with innovation in agriculture.
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