The Awards Ceremony of the SDG Youth Essay Competition was held on October 26, 2017 at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel, Accra. The event sought to award top performing candidates of the SDG Youth Essay Competition. The Competition is an activity under the SDG Youth Action Campaign, a project implemented by the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana) and funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The event was chaired by Dr Joseph Tuffour, a Board Member of Youth Empowerment Synergy. Also in attendance were UNDP’s Mr. Kordzo Sedegah, Mr Mensah-Etsibah of the National Youth Authority and the Executive Director of Youth Empowerment Synergy, Mr Emmanuel Edudzie.
In his opening remarks, Mr Eric Saforo, Training and Capacity Building Manager at YES-Ghana applauded the finalists in participating in the Essay Competition, and also for the feat of being selected as top performers in the competition. He used the opportunity to remind participants of the Awards Ceremony of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the role of the youth.
The Project Lead, Ms. Obaa Akua Konadu, situated the SDG Youth Essay Competition in the context of the SDG Youth Action Campaign. She provided the rationale behind the project, SDG Youth Action Campaign, as being a proactive way of stimulating the interest and galvanising the support of the youth towards the acheivement of the current development agenda. Ms. Konadu briefed participants on the activities undertaken in 2017 under the project. She further provided insights into the SDG Youth Essay Competition. According to Ms. Konadu, the SDG Youth Essay Competition was launched to provide an opportunity for young people in all regions of the country to express their views and aspirations, as well as offer perspectives on critical development issues. In all, 411 entries were received from all regions, and after the strict application of the competition’s guidelines, 353 entries were longlisted to be assessed. Out of the 353 entries assessed, 160 (representing 45.3%) were female as compared 193 being males (54.7%).
The regional breakdown is as follows:
Ashanti – 27
Brong Ahafo – 24
Central – 27
Eastern – 37
Greater Accra -68
Northern – 58
Upper East – 18
Upper West – 14
Volta – 70
Western – 10
Ms. Konadu shared the future of the project as one that is more focused on building the capacity of the youth to be agents of accountability of the SDGs at both local and national levels.
Dr Joseph Tuffour, the Chairperson of the event who doubled as the Chair of the National Committee lauded the finalists for participating in the competition. He shared insights of the activities of the Committee with the participants. He acknowledged the efforts of the Panel of Assessors in identifying the top 25 finalists.
Remarks were received from the Panel of Assessors, and this was delivered by the Lead Assessor, Mr Brian Akrong. He lauded YES-Ghana for the initiative and commended UNDP for the support given. He underscored the importance of the SDGs and how young people need to be actively engaged to contribute to the realisation of the goals by 2030. He challenged the saying ‘Youth are the future leaders’. He opined that ‘the youth are the leaders of today and tomorrow’. He also shared some insights as to better organise the competition in subsequent years.
Mr Kordzo Sedegah gave the keynote address. In his address, he underscored the paramount role young people need to play towards the achievement of the SDGs. He reiterated the need for young people to express their opinion on how development should be in their lifetime. He also encouraged them to document these opinions, and present them as a unified voice to better influence policy.
Awards were presented to partner radio stations (123 FM, Ark FM, ATL FM, Bryt FM, Global FM, Luv FM, Sungmaale Radio, Tanga Radio and Radio Maxx) who assisted in publicsing the essay competition, the Panel of Assessors, the National Committee as well as the top 20 finalists.
Special Awards including cash prices were given to the top 5 finalists. Mr Derrick Amoak was adjudged the Fifth Place winner and won a cash prize of GHS500; Miss Khadija Uthman placed Fourth and won a cash prize of GHS500; Miss Winifred Agbolosoo placed Third and won a cash prize of GHS1000; Miss Ahlam Ahmed-Mustapha was the Second place winner and won a cash prize of GHS 2000. Mr Francis Korsi Lomotey was adjudged the winner of the SDG Youth Essay Competition and won the ultimate prize of GHS3000.
Mr Emmanuel Edudzie, the Executive Director of YES-Ghana in his closing remarks highlighted the great work done so far and the relevant projects ahead to get more young people involved. Through such projects, he envisions more young people will be empowered as “ambassadors of the SDGs and advocates of accountability in their communities.”