Oman Technology Fund and UNICEF Oman announce COVID-19 Youth Technology Challenge

13 May 2020

Muscat, 13 May 2020 –The Oman Technology Fund (OTF) and UNICEF Oman are partnering to launch the OTF-UNICEF COVID-19 Youth Technology Challenge to support entrepreneurs in the region to develop innovative, tech-enabled platforms that will help young people access remote education, training and employment opportunities.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has transformed the lives of children and adolescents around the world, including those in Oman. Government lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus have forced schools to close, leaving students to continue learning remotely. Businesses have shuttered and laid off staff, shrinking opportunities for decent employment.

At the same time, there has been a huge shift towards the use of online products and services. OTF and UNICEF are uniting to support the innovation community to develop local online solutions to this global problem.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is in many ways unprecedented and it has thrown many challenges in the paths of young people,” said Lana Wreikat, UNICEF Representative to Oman. “But opportunity springs from adversity. And our youth challenge supports the development of game-changing ideas that will help children and adolescents truly thrive.”

At the start of the outbreak, OTF announced the allocation of 1 million OMR (2.6 million USD) for investment in projects that will help buttress the community against the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 400,000 OMR is earmarked for investment in innovative projects to help children and young people continue learning remotely, build skills, and access employment.​ .

“At OTF, we see this partnership with UNICEF as a way of advancing the Government of Oman’s Vision 2040 and goal of promoting inclusive education and lifelong learning to build a knowledge-based economy and society,” said His Excellency Talal Suleiman Al Rahbi, Chairman of the Oman Technology Fund Board.

“This partnership with UNICEF is a way to promote tech innovations developed by young people that will benefit children and adolescents in Oman and beyond” said Yousuf Al Harthy, OTF's chief executive officer. “We are focusing on key areas of UNICEF’s work, which aims to improve access to education and lifelong learning to build a knowledge-based economy and society.”

The OTF-UNICEF COVID-19 Youth Technology Challenge is open to participants aged 18 years and over. Individuals are invited to form virtual teams and, with support from mentors and subject experts, over 48 hours will develop their ideas before presenting them to a panel of judges. OTF will consider the winners for investment and inclusion in their Techween programme.

To ensure the scope of the Covid-19 Youth Technology Challenge is truly international, UNICEF Oman will tap into the wealth of resources available under the Generation Unlimited ​(GenU​) initiative. This is a ​global multi-sector partnership set up to help meet the urgent need for expanded education, training and employment opportunities for young people.

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Lianne Gutcher
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