23.05.2017 - Social and Human Sciences Sector

#YouthOfUNESCO Oluwatoyin Faleke on the importance of investing in African youth

© Tomiwa Ajayi

It’s Africa Week at UNESCO and this year’s theme, “Investing in African Youth,” highlights the importance of engaging with youth as leaders and partners, not just as mere beneficiaries.

Investing in African youth is key -  to the aspirations of Agenda 2063, and also to the global Agenda 2030, endorsed by Africa’s leaders. And with so many young women and men leading social change throughout the African continent, it is vital that they are supported in addressing some of the region’s biggest challenges.

Youth like Oluwatoyin Faleke, from Nigeria, who together with a small group of girl-friends, invented a urine powered generator. “We first got the idea for developing the generator after reading an article about a family of nine that passed away from carbon monoxide poisoning from their traditional generator,” she said.

“The fuel subsidy had just been removed by the government and there was an urgent need to create cheap, safe fuel that emits water vapour instead of carbon monoxide.”

The invention also addresses the issue of intermittent power supply experienced by many developing countries by providing a cheap and sustainable source of electricity.

The young women brought their idea to a “Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists” workshop they belonged to at school and continued to research their idea. “It has been a challenging process but we persisted, continuing to work as a team. We’re now seeking patent rights for the project, as well as opportunities to scale-up production.”

For Oluwatoyin, the experience has enabled her to prove to her community the potential of investing in young women's work. “It is vital that more young women get involved in science and technology. We can bring something new to the table – new ideas, new designs, new research strategies, to name but a few. The philosophy of my team is ‘Whatever a man can do, a woman can do just as well… if not better. So just go for it!’”


UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Programme is working to engage youth in social entrepreneurship and the promotion of civic engagement all over the world.

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