Earlier in March, Rwanda reported its first Covid-19 infection and days later the government announced a countrywide lockdown as part of measures aimed at preventing further spread of the pandemic among the 12 million population.
The early and stringent lockdown meant paralysis of the entire economy as other countries followed suit. Businesses, schools, churches, markets, bars, the motor taxi transport system and other sectors closed down. However, shops selling essential items and products remained open.
Two months into the lockdown, a group of Rwandan Youth kept engaged remotely through social media- consumption of data increased significantly as people urgently wanted to keep track of Covid-19 news. Nobody knew what was next as the pandemic was ravaging the whole world.
These youths came up with an idea which according to them aimed at creating a means with which the public would access products of all types without physically going to markets or shops.
Geoffrey Kamali the 7-member team leader told Taarifa that their idea was named ‘One Basket’, “we created a virtual market place where traders can register their businesses and list their products.”
“One basket is an e-commerce initiative that was conceived in response to Covid-19. Given the restrictions on movements, businesses that were previously accustomed to clients going to them had been constrained,” Kamali said.
With this One Basket there are two platforms combined in a single entity- one for the market place and the other for delivery. They are all automated and interlinked. When a client places an order for a product through one basket platform, the product is pushed to drop (they named their delivery services ‘Drop logistics’). The product is later packed and delivered to the client through a fleet of trucks, motorcycle taxis and also youth riders that get paid for delivering these products.
“Transport service providers are aggregated with One Basket to ensure a flawless delivery network system,” Kamali explains the innovation.
Kamali says four months later, their project has attracted about 27 companies and a wide traffic base as they keep prompting the system to buy products online.
He counsels youth to venture into e-commerce, “They need to be mobilised to come up with innovations that march their passion especially in the areas of sports, education, ICT training and other.”
One Basket is one of the hundreds of other innovations that Rwandan youth have developed with the aim of creating job opportunities, access to solutions of all forms especially education resources, counselling services.
Rwanda’s youth represent 60% of the total population- they have been hardly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of September, the Government of Rwanda and UNICEF launched the ‘Generation Unlimited’ [GenU] initiative- it aims at ensuring that all young people between the ages of 10 and 24 are in school, training or employed by 2030.
According to Fodé Ndiaye, UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda, “Generation Unlimited will enhance the strong partnership with the Government and national stakeholders to empower young people with skills and opportunities to unleash their full potential, innovate, create jobs and wealth, and to build a better Rwanda for all.”
Rosemary Mbabazi, Minister of Youth and Culture says, “Generation Unlimited Rwanda’s initial programs will include strengthening young people’s civic participation, increasing entrepreneurship capacity of secondary school learners, and making counselling services accessible to those who need them.”
While launching this new initiative, Youth Minister said, “Make sure that you bring solutions that are needed and implement them. Use your passion and do everything with your heart. The government of Rwanda and partners are here to support you. You are able and we believe in you.”
At global level, government leaders, business executives and heads of United Nations organizations and multilateral agencies renewed their commitment to connect every school and community to the internet by 2030.
They pledged to also reach 3.5 billion children and young people with quality education, including world-class digital solutions, distance learning and relevant skilling.
In a recent meeting, held virtually on September 1st themed ‘Generation Unlimited: Connecting Half the World to Opportunities’, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Young people must be at the forefront, with decision-making power, bringing their creativity, energy and problem-solving skills to the world’s greatest challenges.”
According to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, “even before the pandemic, millions of children and young people were missing out on quality education and training opportunities because they didn’t have access to the internet. Now COVID-19 has made the situation much worse.”
Henrietta cited the current trends saying there will be 3.5 billion children and youth below the age of 25 by 2030, each looking to gain the digital, entrepreneurial and job-specific skills they need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.