Four Africans are among the 16 innovators, activists and entrepreneurs from 12 countries shortlisted for the Commonwealth Youth Awards.
“The awards recognise outstanding young people whose innovative projects have made a real impact in helping their countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG),” according to the Commonwealth website.
In the Africa and Europe region category, Kenyan Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti, Ugandan Galabuzi Brian Kakembo, Tanzanian Salvatory Kessy and Nigerian Joshua Ebin made it to the shortlist.
The Commonwealth’s head of social policy development Layne Robinson said: “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.”
Elizabeth was shortlisted for her ‘Green Generation Initiative’, which promotes environmental education and food security in schools, and encourages a tree growing culture. The initiative has helped plant 30,000 tree seedlings.
Brian’s ‘WEYE Clean Energy’, a social enterprise that produces and sells eco-friendly briquettes (blocks of compressed charcoal) made from biodegradable plastics and organic waste, earned him a spot on the shortlist. He sells the briquettes to homes, schools and local institutions, and uses the profits to fund community outreach programmes and trainings in smart agriculture.
Salvatory uses his online platform ‘SmartClass’ to match low-cost qualified tutors to students interested in learning basic skills such as numeracy, literacy, computing, agriculture and languages.
Joshua’s ‘Jumela Limited’, an agro-technology venture, specialises in the production of plant-based compost and novel agro-products for crop production. It aims at tackling poor food waste management, pollution problems and low agricultural yield.
The Commonwealth says that the top candidate from each of the four regions (Africa and Europe; Asia; Caribbean and Canada; and the Pacific) will be named as a regional winner. One of these four regional winners will become the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2020.
All 16 finalists will each receive a trophy, a certificate and £1,000 ($1,290) to expand the scope of their projects. The regional winners will each earn a trip to London to attend the awards ceremony on March 11, 2020 and will receive £3,000 ($3,871), whereas the overall winner will take home a total of £5,000 ($6,452).
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal countries. Its roots go back to the British Empire, but today any country can join the modern Commonwealth.