Brian Kakembo Galabuzi has become the first Ugandan to be named the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year for his outstanding project in converting biodegradable plastic and organic waste into eco-friendly charcoal briquettes. the overall Commonwealth Youth Awards. The awards started in 2012 and have been awarded every year since then.
Galabuzi, the founder of WEYE energy based in Mukono, beat four regional winners that were selected from over 500 entries of projects that have been developed by young people aimed at helping their countries achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Galabuzi said while accepting the award that: “I want the world to see that unemployed youth is not a problem but an untapped resource that can be trained and supported to bring about a social change.”
Through his WEYE Energy, Kakembo makes briquettes from biodegradable plastics and organic waste generated at home, schools and local institutions. The profits generated from Kakembo’s company are used to fund community outreach programmes and training for young people and women in smart agriculture.
Besides the winners plaque, Galabuzi scooped a cash prize of 5000 British pounds (Approx. UGX23million) to help him scale up his project.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who presented the awards, said: “For the awards this year, we received nominations from more than 40 Commonwealth countries. Considering them made us aware of a vast range of impressive innovations.
She added: “The entries remind us that there is no lack of ingenuity or ideas. What we tend to lack are mechanisms to support and fund the young innovators who have the imagination and creativity we need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
“So the Commonwealth Youth Awards are a searchlight picking out some of the best examples of who we are and what we can do as a family of nations.”
The other regional winners were: Hafiz Usama Tanveer from Pakistan whose project on bringing clean water to poor communities emerged the best in Asia.
From the Caribbean and Canada: Sowmyan Jegatheesan’s project on providing one-stop information to prevent human-wildlife conflict was the best from that region.
The only lady finalist, Sagufta Salma from Fiji won the Pacific regional award for her work on transforming waste into sustainable furniture.