A young man from Uganda has won two prizes at the 2022 Commonwealth Youth Awards.
Franc Kamugyisha was named regional winner for Africa, as well as taking home the prestigious title of Commonwealth Young Person of the Year for ‘EcoPlastile’- a recycling initiative that turns consumer waste into roofing materials and biodegradable facemasks.
He is one of five exceptional young people to be recognised for impressive projects alleviating poverty; improving education; promoting action on the climate and addressing gender inequality.
Organised by the Commonwealth Youth Programme, the awards celebrate outstanding Commonwealth young people (aged 15-29), from the different Commonwealth regions (Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and Canada, and Australia and the Pacific) whose projects are transforming lives in their communities; providing practical solutions to complex problems and helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda.
Addressing the ceremony, Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Patricia Scotland QC said:
“Young people are central to the role and purpose of the Commonwealth – and at the heart of our work.
“One of the many things that amazes and excites me most about our Commonwealth young people is their ingenuity.
“Whether the challenge they are tackling is new or centuries-old, their innovative spirit, energy and passion offer us out-of-the-box solutions that can change the world for the better.
“I am proud to put our incredible young people in the spotlight with these awards.”
Turning waste into building materials in Kampala
Franc was inspired to start ‘EcoPlastile’ by his own experience of living in a slum community in Kampala.
There he witnessed the dire consequences of poor waste disposal; with post-consumer waste plastic littering streets, clogging sewers, and encroaching on poorly built houses during heavy rains.
The project has created over 180 jobs paying 1.9 times the national wage, recycled 360 tonnes of plastic; and has launched a microinsurance programme through which over 100 uninsured households can use plastic waste as a financial resource for medical services.
Accepting the prestigious award, Franc said: “Winning the Commonwealth Youth Award is a stamp of approval for our small efforts as a social enterprise. It means a lot to EcoPlastile on our strategy to scale and impact a bigger community in Africa.
“The recognition from the Commonwealth Youth Award will enable us to get more visibility and connect us to young and like-minded young people across the world solving today’s global challenges.”