Today, Swiss philanthropic organisation Fondation Botnar adds the city of Koforidua in Ghana, to its global OurCity initiative that leverages local strengths, community engagement and digital technologies to transform cities and ensure young people’s wellbeing.
Following its success in several cities, including Tanga in Tanzania and Cluj-Napoca in Romania, the city of Koforidua in Ghana is joining the OurCity initiative that supports cities in transforming them into youth-centred places by enabling young people to take part in city design and governance.
Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 75% of sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 35 and is projected to have the fastest urban growth rate in the world. This presents both opportunities and challenges for the continent’s growth. It is vital to include young people in decision-making processes to transform cities, so the youth are meaningfully engaged in realising their potential.
In partnership with the STAR-Ghana Foundation, the programme will collaborate with youth, civil society, policymakers, the private sector, innovators, and other city champions to work towards more inclusive cities. As OurCity aims to catalyse stakeholders and drive policy change through inclusive engagement and advocacy, stakeholders within Koforidua will be engaged in a cross-sector collaboration process to define the programme’s priority areas. The programme will be designed and implemented together with young people.
Koforidua was selected for the openness of key stakeholders and authorities to collaboration as well as young people’s clear desire to take ownership and influence their city’s future, demonstrated by their strong engagement in the preparation phase of the programme.
Youth spokesperson from Koforidua, John Adjepong, said: “If I could change one thing about Koforidua, it would be for young people to become more involved in the decision-making process. The OurCity initiative is therefore the perfect platform for youth to participate and drive positive outcomes for our city.”
Ibrahim-Tanko Amidu, Executive Director of STAR-Ghana Foundation, said: “Through our work, we aim to develop a responsive and accountable state by promoting constructive dialogue at district, regional, and national levels. We are excited to partner with Fondation Botnar to expand the global OurCity initiative and continue working in partnership with young people across Koforidua to improve their health and wellbeing”.
Susanna Hausmann, Cities Portfolio Lead at Fondation Botnar, said: “By 2030, young Africans are expected to make up 42 percent of the world’s youth and account for 75 percent of the those under age 35 in Africa, so for cities to thrive, young citizens need to be included in the urban transformation process. As one of Ghana’s most popular cities and a major education hub, through OurCity, we aim to catalyse Koforidua’s stakeholders collectively and further include young people’s voices in decision-making processes.”
Fondation Botnar – a Swiss philanthropic foundation working to improve the health and wellbeing of young people living in cities around the world – initially launched the initiative in 2018 in Tanga in Tanzania and 2020 in Cluj-Napoca in Romania. Thanks to the programme’s success, it was expanded to include two additional cities in 2022, Barranquilla in Colombia and Manta in Ecuador.
OurTanga (TangaYetu) has led to the establishment of the first STEM park in Tanzania, the development of a digital city observatory platform to improve the use of data in decision-making processes, as well as improved learning environments in schools and entrepreneurship and digital literacy training. Additionally, a Youth Forum was created and now has over 500 dynamic participants, positively encouraged to take an active role in TangaYetu projects.
OurCluj in Romania has seen similar results through developing projects related to nutrition and healthy lifestyle in schools, youth participation through arts and comics, the establishment of a local STEM training platform, as well as the development of school networks and a social innovation incubator for young people.