In 2014, the World Bank Kenya office launched the Blog4Dev competition, an annual writing contest that invites young people to weigh in on a topic critical to the country’s economic development. The competition is a way to engage Africa’s young people and provide a platform to share their views—and solutions—about development topics that are important to them.
Since then, Blog4Dev has grown to include the voices of hundreds of young people from countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa who have submitted blogs on various topics. The competition tests originality, creativity and innovation.
This year, for the first time, a mosotho has joined in with a winning submission and will be convening with other young leaders in Washington DC. We took a moment to discuss with Khothatso Kolobe about his selection in the competition and here’s the transcript of the interview.
What is your name and age?
I am Khothatso Kolobe, turning 26 later in April.
How did you find out about the World Bank writing competition?
Through www.selibeng.com, those guys share a lot of valuable content.
How did you manage to win such a prestigious competition?
My essay was littered with several practical examples I had gathered from the Selibeng Forum and Mafisa Talks. Meaning it was through listening, digesting and presenting my opinions and those of technology expert speakers in an intelligible way.
What was the challenge?
I had to address what Africa should do to prepare itself for the future of work, which is technology based. I have heard some speakers call it the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
How tight was the competition?
Well there were four entrants from Lesotho. Then there were three finalists that were called for the interview and I made it. I was told to get to the interview 10 minutes before, I arrived 20 minutes ahead. Punctuality.
I did not win because I was the smartest, it was due to interacting with smart people around me and reading. There were only four of us, that is low. With the challenge of unemployment, the youth is discouraged.
The trick is to never despair, find purpose, keep applying effort, keep moving and maintain optimism, especially in circumstances that look hopeless. It is not easy, but it is possible.
What does it mean to be the winner of the Blog4dev Spring Meetings?
It means so much. The meeting is really a big deal and I am the first Mosotho to make it there. I am humbled, the plan is to make the most out of this learning and growing opportunity.
Any other thing you’d like to add?
A massive thanks to World Bank for the opportunity to meet other African youth that desire to see a better Africa. I saw some of them on a WebEx conference call and they were impressive! Being a patriot, I intend to hold the flag of Lesotho high and do us proud.
There are people who heard me during the interview, they know themselves. There are people at the World Bank that have been working very closely with me in preparation for this trip, they know themselves. For all that, I am extremely thankful.
I hope it is clear that I am not the hero. I have surrounded myself with amazing people, both intentionally and accidentally. As a result, it has rubbed off on me.