Youth Participating in Entrepreneurship Expo

On behalf of UNDP, it gives me a great pleasure welcome you all, to this workshop, organised within the Entrepreneurship Expo 2017. We wish to thank and congratulate BEDCO and The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN) for organising this auspicious event, and agreeing to let UNDP use this platform to advance the dialogue and engagement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and supporting Lesotho’s efforts towards attaining these goals and her national priorities. As UNDP, we view this as also an opportunity to identify potential partnerships and establishing division of labour for different stakeholders on the implementation of this agenda at national level. Our focus today, is the youth, and we have thus themed today’s session ‘Engaging Youth for Economic Prosperity – Implementing Agenda 2030 in Lesotho”.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015, is the global response to today’s most pressing development challenges and is expected to guide development priorities for the next 15 years. Young people played a key role in shaping this agenda as they experience first-hand many of the issues it seeks to address. In Lesotho, almost 20, 000 youth were reached through the My World Survey (2014), providing priorities for the national development agenda and focus for the global agenda. According to this report, the top priorities for Lesotho included employment, education and health.

Last year, UNDP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, launched the National Human Development Report, that was focused on the youth. The purpose of that report was to contribute to evidence-base in the development challenges affecting youth in Lesotho, relative to education, employment, participation in politics, civics engagement, environment and climate change. Lesotho is ranked 160/188 countries in human development, at HDI value of 0.497. According to this report, Lesotho scored 0.52 on the Youth Development Index, and even lower and last among Commonwealth countries on health-related indicators for youth, at 0.224. We have learnt also, from the recently published Census data, that youth make up-to 40% (39.6%) of the Lesotho population. So, our question in this workshop is, if Lesotho is to create a sustainable and prosperous future for the youth of today, how and what should be the business of all responsible players, including youth themselves. 

The 2030 Agenda provides an opportunity to address all the diverse and mutually reinforcing development challenges of social, economic and environmental nature, and forge an inclusive development path for countries. The agenda underscores participation of youth in its implementation and review. In the context of Lesotho, this also takes advantage of the existing youth bulge, as indicated, to build development dividends for realization of the national development goals and the SDGs.

Based on the national development goals outlined in the NSDP (2013- 2017), UNDP Lesotho has supported national initiatives to advance youth development in areas including employment creation, governance and civic engagement. In 2017, the UNDP supported initiatives that focused on assessment of past interventions on youth empowerment, and tested potential strategies for re-engagement and partnership with national stakeholders to advance youth empowerment and employment.

Honourable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,

We happy to report that UNDP supported a team of 6 youth, comprising representatives from government, civil society organisations and youth entrepreneurs, to participate in the Youth Connekt Africa Summit 2017, in Rwanda. The Youth Connekt is an initiative of UNDP Rwanda, and is being adopted broadly by UNDP Africa, as a platform to support youth development programs and establish partnerships for youth development. As part of this meeting, we hope, these Ambassadors, will be able to interest you, as government, development partners and youth organisations, to be part of this initiative as we try to domesticate it in Lesotho.

We believe also, that to move forward, we will need to understand how far we have come in the support to youth development programs, challenges and lessons that can be utilised as we build new programs. So, we will also reflect on the findings of the Tracer Study on impact of Youth Empowerment Programs, that was undertaken through the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, at the beginning of this year.

We are hoping that, discussions on these two initiatives and in the context of SDGs, will enable us to formulate better strategies in engaging the youth for a more prosperous future. In the program, we have include the Ministries of Gender and Youth, and Ministry of Small Business Development to share the national vision on youth development, private sector, to share experiences on ongoing initiatives, and share lessons on how other organisations can partner, and the youth entrepreneurs and activists to learn how best the future can be shaped with youth participation and, most important, to establishing pathways to an inclusive employment creating and sustainable economic growth. 

As you will be aware, ladies and gentlemen, it also time for development of the new UN/UNDP Country Program for the next 5 years. So, we are also excited that we have this as once of the consultative sessions as we try to forge the context and position for the UN support to the Government of Lesotho. Several platforms for collection of information and evidence have been established, and alongside this, we are also running a survey on youth and empowerment. So, if you are youth, and you are stopped to respond to this, kindly comply. This, and the discussions from this workshop will help in shaping future interventions.

To conclude, I wish to Congratulate BEDCO and The Entrepreneurship Network on this event, and look forward to exploring further, opportunities to partner in support of entrepreneurship development for youth employment. As always, UNDP stands ready to provide support and work with government and the Basotho for inclusive and sustainable development.

In this regard, I wish all of you, interesting and successful deliberations.  I thank you for your kind attention!


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