Madagascar’s First Lady, Mialy Rajoelina, launched a digital incubation space provided by UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, where young people can develop innovative ideas and projects on advancing UNFPA’s mandate and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“This space will contribute largely to ensure access to digital learning, especially for our young girls,” said Ms. Rajoelina, UNFPA’s Champion in the fight against gender-based violence (GBV). “Education does not only constitute a fundamental human right. It is also a guarantor of sustainable development for our society and our country.”
The ‘Innovation Room’, located at UNFPA’s offices in Antananarivo, offers free access to a range of information and communication technology (ICT) tools and other support. It seeks to address infrastructural difficulties faced by youth in relation to Internet access, lack of constant electricity supply and the need for ICT tools to learn, develop and share digital solutions. For every 100 inhabitants in Madagascar, only 0.12 have a fixed Internet subscription, representing approximately 33,600 people in a nation with a population of 28 million, according to data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2018.
“This situation leaves very limited possibilities to improve their education and access to other innovative tools for a majority of these young people, who constitute two thirds of the population, and especially for girls, who do not usually have the needed support to pursue careers in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said UNFPA Representative Koffi Kouame.
With an annex in Tulear, Atsimo-Andrefana region, the Innovation Room went live with a call for submissions from all interested youth aged 15 to 35 years.
Governor Edally Tovondrainy of Atsimo-Andrefana expressed enthusiasm that his region had been chosen to host the annex, to “help youths [here] to better build themselves and initiate innovative projects for the development of the region, which is the largest in Madagascar.”
The Innovation Room was inaugurated by Ms. Rajoelina in the presence of the Minister of Technical Education and Vocational Training, key development partners, UN sister agencies, local authorities and young people.
In 2022, UNFPA’s Madagascar office won a global award at the UNFPA Innovation Fair for its submission on the Innovation Room, which committed to placing young people at the heart of innovation. The inauguration of this innovative space marks the concretization of these efforts.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNFPA – East and Southern Africa.