“Our society cannot just be built on books but should be a much more holistic being that excels in academics, displays incredible talent, is financially literate and possesses soft skills. These qualities would help place us young people in a better position in the society.” The words of Prudence Karicki, a student who took part in a recent hackathon organized by UNICEF Ghana in partnership with three other tech hubs across the country.
Building on the momentum of the global launch of Generation Unlimited, UNICEF in Ghana organized a series of competitions in three cities – Accra, Tamale and Kumasi – that brought together young people from various schools and backgrounds applying technology to design solutions aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Earlier in the year, UNICEF engaged with various innovation hubs, which organizes diverse programmes that help children and young people understand concepts like design thinking, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. It is through these engagements that fruitful partnerships with hubs such Ashesi Design Lab, Kumasi Hive and Hopin Academy have been established.
According to Fiachra McAsey, UNICEF Deputy Representative, “Young people are much more involved in accelerating the process towards achieving the SDGs. Gradually the world is realizing that they have the solutions and the ability to lead the movement of achieving the SDGs.”
The #GenUnlimited hackathon took place in October simultaneously in the three innovation hubs and featured almost 100 young people from the southern, middle and northern parts of the country, working together to find solutions to seven of the Sustainable Development Goals – Good Health and Well-being Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities and Climate Action.
Rosemary Anku, a participant of the hackathon explained the reason she and her group chose to come together to find solutions to Gender Equality. “All we are saying is that girls and women should be empowered. This means there should not be any restrictions to careers they choose to the issues that they want brought to the fore in their societies. That is really what Gender Equality means to us. I believe if we keep having these conversations and opportunities to work together, our generation would surely be unlimited in no time.”
After two days of “hacking”, four high scoring teams from each of the innovation hubs were selected to develop their ideas and build prototypes with the opportunity to present them at the African Youth SDGs Summit which was held from the 7th to the 9th of November.
UNICEF’s efforts at engaging young people was featured during the just ended African Youth SDGs Summit. The Summit which is held annually brings together young people
from various parts of the continent to discuss and assess the status of implementation, commitments to the Global Goals, share ideas and challenge national governments to deliver on their promises, especially towards young people.
At the summit, 12 teams presented their prototypes on achieving the SDGs to a panel of judges and a gathering of over 1000 young delegates from 43 African countries.
The winners of the competition, FOCUS, developed an idea of using technology to assist the visually impaired, contributing to SDG Three - Good Health and Well-Being and were awarded US$1000 to create a start-up.
“Whenever young people are given the opportunity to co-create solutions to social issues, they exhibit incredible talent, intelligence and creativity. We fully agree with the United Nations Secretary General when he said, ‘All our hopes for a better world rests on young people.’” Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Representative in Ghana concluded.