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Blogger off to the US

Bereng Mpaki

A YOUNG Mosotho blogger, Khothatso Kolobe yesterday left the country for Washington DC in the United States to participate in the World Bank’s Spring Meetings which start tomorrow and end on the 14th of this month.

Mr Kolobe (25) earned the trip after winning the annual World Bank blogging competition dubbed Blog4Dev where young people aged from 18 to 28 from 48 Sub-Saharan Africa countries were asked to share their ideas about how they can prepare themselves for a digital economy and a technology-driven workplace.

The competition ran from October to November 2018 under the topic: What will it take to enhance the skills needed to prepare Africa’s youth for the digital economy and the future of work?

The annual competition, started in 2014 with only Kenyan youths but has spread to the rest of the region starting from last year.

Mr Kolobe, who hails from Roma in Maseru, was the successful applicant out of the four entrants received from Basotho bloggers.

A blog is a regular feature appearing as part of an online publication that typically relates to a particular topic and consists of articles and personal commentary by one or more authors. Blogging is the act of running a blog.

Winning authors are eligible for several prizes, including a chance to attend the World Bank Spring meetings in Washington DC, or an opportunity to have their blogs published on the World Bank Africa blog Nasikiliza.

The Spring Meetings are attended by approximately 2800 delegates from the bank’s member countries, 350 observer organisation representatives and 800 members of the press. Approximately 550 accredited civil society members also participate in the meetings.

The meetings are comprised of events open to all attendees, ministerial-level invitation-only sessions, closed bilateral meetings, and events open only to the press.

Mr Kolobe told the Sunday Express that he was delighted about the opportunity to participate in the meetings.

“I am humbled and I am planning to use this opportunity to its fullest potential to ensure that it benefits country somewhere down the line,” Mr Kolobe said.

Mr Kolobe said on his winning blog, he focused on the observation that many youths in the country have a fair access to smartphones that can be used productively but use them for merely for socialising.

“We are some of the leading smartphones consumers in Africa and I feel it is high time that we change the meaning of cool by changing from using smartphones just as a status symbol but utilising them for developmental purposes like job creation,” Mr Kolobe said.

He also said parental support is important to encourage young people to use smartphones differently.

“There is a need for parents to change their opinion towards usage of technology. Their friendliness can open doors for the youth to further explore smartphones for meaningful usage.”

A National University of Lesotho (NUL) Political Administration and Sociology graduate, Mr Kolobe fell in love with blogging while looking for employment after graduation in 2016 when he started his Ordinary Heroes blog.

Mr Kolobe has been involved in several entrepreneurial projects and is also an avid reader.

He says he believes in hanging around people who are creative and keen for development, including participating in entrepreneurial events like The Hook Up Dinner and Change Agents Night which he says have shaped his personality.

“I interact with like-minded people, attend entrepreneurial events with creative people and couple that with reading. With that combination one can face competition with confidence.”

For her part, Elita Banda, the communications consultant for the World Bank in Lesotho, said the organisation is proud of Mr Kolobe.

“We are proud of him for representing Lesotho and we hope more Basotho will enter the competition going forward so that they may get a similar opportunity of exposure,” Ms Banda said.



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