Highlights from the PMI Africa Conference - Youth Edition 2023

On Saturday, September 9, 2023, the Faculty of Business and Management Sciences at the University of Nairobi, in collaboration with the Project Management Institute – Kenya Chapter, marked a historic milestone by hosting the first-ever in-person Project Management conference- Youth Edition. This event, held in anticipation of the 8th annual Project Management Institute Africa Conference, was a testament to the commitment of both the university and PMI in fostering excellence in project management education and practice.

Empowering Youth for Positive Change

The primary objective of the PMI Africa Conference: Youth Edition was clear: ‘To empower the youth in project management, enabling them to drive positive social impact and sustainable change in communities and beyond. The conference aimed to achieve this through practical skills training, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas.Several key objectives underscored this mission:

Promoting Project Management Excellence:

The conference aimed to highlight project management as both a profession and a vital national competency for economic transformation.

Fostering Collaboration:

It provided a platform for youth from various universities and technical institutions to connect, share knowledge, collaborate, and inspire each other for a brighter future.

Addressing Youth Needs:

The event sought to listen to the aspirations and needs of the youth, offering information and encouragement to take action.

Preparing for the Future:

The conference explored various focus areas to adequately prepare youth for the growing African project economy, including project management, governance, leadership, climate action, renewable energy, digital innovation, diversity, equity, and social development.

Strengthening Academia-Industry Partnerships:

It served as a platform to engage and strengthen partnerships and dialogues between universities regarding academia's role in nurturing youth in project management.

Engaging Discussions and Workshops

Throughout the day, the conference featured engaging discussions and interactive workshops led by experts from various fields. These sessions aimed to equip participants with valuable insights, practical skills, and tools necessary to drive positive change in their communities. Topics covered included "The Africa We Want," "Bridging the Gap Between Academics and Industry," and "The Voice of the Youth."

Inspiring Words from Esteemed Speakers

The conference featured a lineup of esteemed speakers who shared their wisdom and insights with the attendees. Prof. James Njihia, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management Science, delivered a motivational talk encouraging youth to take responsibility for their lives and the society at large. Prof. Njihia said, “The youth present in this conference, take the responsibility to give your life good direction with time you will be a positive influence. Keep connected, and build long-term relationships, you will not get value through short-term connections. Keep growing, participate, network, and be the best you can be.”

Dr. Ombati, Chairman of the host Department of Management Science and Project Planning, highlighted the various project planning courses offered by the University of Nairobi, emphasizing the shared vision of empowering youth, saying, “We gather here with a shared vision - to empower our youth in project management, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to drive positive social impact and sustainable change in our communities and beyond. Our theme, "Empowering the Youth in Project Management," reflects our commitment to nurturing the next generation of project managers who will be the architects of a better tomorrow.

Jeane Mathenge, President of PMI Kenya Chapter, provided valuable information about the Project Management Institute and its certifications, emphasizing the role of project management in turning ideas into tangible outcomes.

Prof. Gituro Wainaina, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Business, emphasized the importance of mastering project management skills, including logical thinking, leadership, negotiation, communication, and more. His main message to the youth was “Project management is all about logical thinking, Leadership skills, negotiation skills, and ability to work with people from a multicultural background, ability to see opportunity and risks. You require planning skills, budgeting, and organizational as well as analytical skills. The most important skill of all communication skills, communication skills are critical to the successful implementation of a project.

A Call to Action

The overarching theme of the conference, "Empowering the Youth in Project Management," served as a resounding call to action. It underscored the importance of investing in youth, equipping them with the skills, knowledge, and leadership qualities required to tackle the complex challenges of today's world. The event aimed to ignite a passion for project management and instill a sense of purpose in the young attendees.

Encouraging Membership and Collaboration

In addition to imparting knowledge and skills, the event also encouraged students and young professionals to become members of the Project Management Institute. PMI offers a wealth of resources, certifications, networking opportunities, and a global community that can accelerate careers and amplify the impact of projects led by the youth.

Looking Ahead

The 8th annual Project Management Institute Africa Conference, with the theme "Africa We Want: Together We Can," is highly anticipated and is scheduled to take place at the Emara Ole Sereni Hotel from September 10th to 12th this year. This event promises to further advance the cause of project management in Africa, building on the momentum generated by the Youth Edition conference.

In conclusion, the PMI Africa Conference: Youth Edition 2023 was a resounding success, leaving a profound impact on the youth by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration needed to drive positive change in their communities. It underscored the vital role of project management in shaping the future of Africa and fostering collaboration among its youth. As the larger conference approaches, the momentum created by this event will undoubtedly continue to drive excellence in project management on the continent.