Youth solutions to youth challenges will help boost economic prospects in Zambia

9 May 2017
Sexual and reproductive health linked to education and skills acquisition can help build social capital and improve productivity of Zambia’s working age population. © UNFPA Zambia

“I encourage my fellow youths out there to not be afraid to take a step and share their ideas and innovations. To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.”

These inspiring words for young people were shared by Joseph Lungu, 24, a young innovator who recently won the 2017 Zambia innovation award with his safety device to monitor overloading on passenger service vehicles.

His innovation tackles a contentious transport issue, as he explained.

“Noting the bad state of many Zambian highways resulting from the overloading of passenger service vehicles, and the increased number of road accidents, I developed a safety device to monitor overloading,” he said. “This device works in such a way that if a passenger service vehicle is overloaded, the engine will immediately stop and an alert will be sent to the Road Transport and Safety Agency," he said.

Noting the bad state of many Zambian highways from overloaded passenger service vehicles, and the number of road accidents, I developed a safety device to monitor overloading.

A young graduate from Northern Technical College (NORTEC) in the Copperbelt Province, Joseph won the innovation award at the 2017 Zambia Youth Entrepreneurs and Innovation Forum in March this year.

It is hoped that this networking platform will help build the capacity of young Zambians who have established their own businesses and are contributing to employment and wealth creation in Zambia.

Collaborating to build capacity of young innovators and entrepreneurs

UNFPA in Zambia is helping to build the capacity of young innovators and entrepreneurs by scaling up its engagement with the Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Youth and Sport, as well as with other international and private sector partners.

Young people being able to achieve their potential is a fundamental precondition for sustainable development. This in turn could enable Zambia to achieve its vision of becoming a prosperous middle-income country by 2030, by fulfilling its economic growth potential known as the demographic dividend. This arises from significant investments in young people’s skills, development and health.

Given the interconnectedness of health, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH), education, and economic empowerment, this integrated and multi-sectoral development approach has the potential to improve youth health outcomes. SRH linked to education and skills acquisition helps build social capital and improve productivity of Zambia’s working age population.

UNFPA in Zambia has ongoing strategic engagements in this regard with various entities, including the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), African Development Bank (AfDB) and Ecobank.

UNFPA’s Innovation Accelerator: solutions for young people, by young people

This year, UNFPA is rolling out an Innovation Accelerator initiative in Zambia, in line with the Fund's global and regional innovation ecosystem aimed at tapping into young entrepreneurs’ creativity for advancing sexual and reproductive health.

An Innovation Accelerator is an initiative aimed at sourcing innovative business solutions to socio-economic challenges faced by young people, through linking up with networks of potential young entrepreneurs and providing them with seed funding, mentorship and technical support to develop scalable and sustainable solutions.

Accelerators end with a public pitch event or ‘demo day’, at which prototypes are presented to potential investors and implementers to facilitate them being scaled-up. The main features are as follows:

  • An application process that is open to all yet highly competitive;
  • Provision of pre-seed investment;
  • Focus on small teams, not individual founders;
  • Fixed-term support with training and mentoring.

Documentation and knowledge management is conducted throughout the whole process to inform future Innovation Accelerators. Read more