By Bampia James Bundu, Strategic Communications Unit MIC
The Minister of Youth Affairs Mr. Mohamed Orman Bangura has launched the 2021 Social Good Summit intended to raise awareness, inspire global actions and explore accelerating means of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2023.
The launching ceremony was held at the weekly government press briefing held at the conference room of the Ministry of Information and Communications 8th Floor Youyi Building in Freetown on Thursday 16th September 2021.
In his address, the Minister of Youth Affairs Mr. Mohamed Orman Bangura explained that the Social Good Summit is an opportunity to bring young people of Sierra Leone to the centre stage of driving social change.
The summit encourages national innovation to advance the Global Sustainable Development Goals. He revealed that government through the Ministry of Youth Affairs in collaboration with National Youth Commission, National Youth Service, Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation, United Nations Agencies and Private Sector Partners, is using this national platform to give young people the opportunity to showcase their ideas, creativity and the use of technology to solve community development challenges. He said it further recognises young people who with their meagre resources have invested in developing community support programs/interventions that have created a positive impact on the lives of people around them.
The Minister maintained that this year’s challenge will target three categories: Youth Innovation Competition in Agriculture, Youth Assistive Technologies for People with Disabilities Innovation Competition and Youth Impact Competition.
The Youth Minister announced that the winning prizes for the various competitions stand at Le20 Million for the first and second challenges respectively, whiles the prize for the third challenge on Youth Impact Competition is Le10 Million.
He added that the submission of application forms is open for 1 month from the 16th September to 15th October 2021.
Minister Orman Bangura further stated that this year’s event is aligned with the Global International Youth Day theme “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Planetary Health’. The local theme for the Social Good Summit 2021 is ‘Le wi fen idia pan AgrikolehofomekSalone Food en environment sikur’ (Let us Innovate in Agriculture to Secure Sierra Leone’s Food & Environment). “This theme couldn’t be better suited to the current situation we find ourselves in the world today with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Addressing the conference, the UNICEF Deputy Representative Liv Elin Indreiten congratulated UNDP and the Ministry of Youth Affairs for leading the Social Good Summit in Sierra Leone over the last eight years saying they are happy to be part of this year’s summit. She maintained that since 2014, the Government of Sierra Leone has championed the use of Technology and Innovation to contribute to the national development plan and transform Sierra Leone into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub. She assured that UNICEF will continue to support the Government of Sierra Leone through their partnership with Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), to promote and enable the use of Innovation for improved results for children.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Rokya Ye Dieng admitted that Sierra Leone has a large youthful population. Out of an estimated population of 7.9 million by mid-2020 (UN Data), youth aged 15-35 years account for 34%. Creating employment opportunities for these young people remains a priority. Promoting innovative enterprises is one way of achieving this goal.
Young people in Sierra Leone are dynamic and have great potentials, and the SGS is one event that recognizes this.
She explained that this year’s SGS has also introduced a new dimension of inclusivity into the competition for young people with solutions for Assistive Technologies, mainly to support people with Disabilities (PWDs). This affirms the inclusive nature of the Social Good Summit.
“We provide cash prizes for the competition winners and runners-up, enabling them to continue investing in their solutions,” she said.
There are also opportunities for future support through the UNDP Accelerator Lab’s 6-month capacity-building programme. Solutions with high potential can be absorbed into the Country Office’s Youth Empowerment programme,” she said, adding that the UNDP would like to take the opportunity to encourage young people to apply for various challenges.
“We want to see exciting solutions out there and our commitment to supporting youth interventions and strengthening the innovation ecosystem is assured,” she concluded.