Kenya’s Vice President William Ruto has rallied Ugandan youth to aspire for greatness, saying the young generation has potential to not only turn around their lives but actively participate in the transformation of Africa.
“Let nobody tell you that you can’t make it,” said Ruto in Kampala on Saturday night.
“If they do, tell them, what about William Ruto who sold chicken and is now the Deputy President of Kenya?” he added amidst a standing ovation.
The powerful politician, whom many believe will succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta, was speaking at the Young Achievers’ Awards.
The ceremony held at Kampala Serena Hotel brought together hundreds of young people in celebration of innovation, enterprise, achievement and leadership of young people.
Ruto spoke after receiving the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other prominent East Africans who have been recipients of this Award include Presidents Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, departed entrepreneur and industrialist Late James Mulwana, educationist Prof Senteza Kajubi, social justice campaigner, Noelina Kareeba, and Tanzanian Businessman and philanthropist Ali Mufuruki.
Ruto said “what has been shown today is further demonstration that the young people are going to take their countries and continent forward.”
He said Africa is a “rich continent that values hard work, enterprise, craft and innovation, mostly associated with the youth.”
To unlock their potential, he added, “We must give primacy to science, technology and technical education and place it at the centerpiece of our transformation.”
Ruto said the Kenyan government has invested heavily in technical education to provide relevant skills and competence to the young people to enable them competes for opportunities on a global scale.
“Let us leverage on our young people’s enthusiasm and energy to unleash new opportunities; open arenas for discovery and achievement,” he advised.
He said “enterprise and creativity pays more” adding, “Africa must learn to support and celebrate their own.”
Several young people were rewarded in the areas of Arts, Entrepreneurship, Media and Journalism, Philanthropy, Innovation, Sports among others.
Awel Uwihanganye, Co- Founder Young Achievers Award said, “Ruto remained a key voice and strong proponent of youth empowerment which is a big inspiration for the young generation.
“His story of triumph against the odds, and achievements in leadership from a humble background to being a key leader in East Africa’s biggest economy resonates with dreams and aspirations of many young people in East Africa and Africa as a whole,” said Uwihanganye.
Mr Ruto joined President Uhuru Kenyatta to form the Jubilee Alliance in 2012.
The alliance brought together the United Republic Party (URP) led by Mr Ruto and the National Alliance Party (TNA) led by President Kenyatta.
He became the running mate to President Kenyatta and eventually the Deputy President after the March 4th, 2013 elections.
Charges related to the violence that followed the 2007 Kenya elections were dropped by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, who represented President Museveni at the event, applauded the youthful innovators for providing local solutions to Uganda’s societal challenges.
The event was held under the theme “Rewarding Innovation And Excellence Recognizing of Young Entrepreneurs and Inspiring the Next Generation of world Leaders”.