Four Africans have been listed among 20 young people from across five regions who will vie for the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work.

According to the list of the regional finalists announced by the Commonwealth Secretariat in a press release on Thursday, the four Africans are Mawuse Christina Gyisun (Ghana), Ghislain Irakoze (Rwanda), Deliwe Makata (Malawi), and Emmanuel Tlemu (Republic of Tanzania). There is no Nigerian on the list.

The Commonwealth Secretariat said the regional finalists were selected from a group of 50 shortlisted young leaders identified as changemakers who are actively making progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Secretariat further said this year’s Commonwealth Youth Awards will be presented in person at St James’s Palace in London, where the event will be attended by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, who has long championed youth causes and promoted development opportunities for young people.

“These awards are a source of pride for us at the Secretariat, in particular the Secretary-General, as we have wholeheartedly committed to empowering and amplifying young people. These 20 regional finalists have sacrificed much and it is with great pleasure that we have an opportunity to reward them,” said the Commonwealth’s Head of Social Policy Development, Layne Robinson.

“I also want to thank the Duke of Edinburgh for agreeing to attend the Awards and the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust for their continued partnership,” Robinson said.

The Youth Awards, according to the Commonwealth Secretariat, will be one of the main side events of the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM), which takes place from 11-15 September 2023. Ministers and senior officials from across 56 nations will gather at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth headquarters, to deliberate on proposals, share best practices and decide on future plans to support young people across the Commonwealth. It will be the 10th time they will be convening, and this meeting will be held under the theme “Aim Higher: Delivering More for Young People in the Commonwealth”.

While there will be celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, the CYMM will focus on charting the way forward with the input of young people, experts, and youth workers in collaboration with the ministers, senior officials and policymakers who will be gathered for the meeting.

On Thursday, 14th September, those gathered for the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting will celebrate the achievements of the Youth Awards finalists. The celebrations will also unveil the much-anticipated Commonwealth Young Person of the Year.

Each of the 20 finalists will receive a trophy, a certificate and £1,000 as their prize, while the top finalist from each region will be recognised as the regional winner and will receive £3,000. One of the five regional winners will then become the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2023 and be awarded £5,000.

In continuation of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s partnership with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT), an additional prize of £20,000 in funding will also be presented to one project at the award ceremony, to be delivered over the course of two years. The winner will be enrolled into QCT’s Youth Ventures Programme and given access to coaching and development opportunities.