NO fewer than 127 youths across nine West African countries who are participating in the ongoing Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)-enhanced leadership skills training and African youths have been challenged to be future change agents.
Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Director Prof Philip Simpson told the participants to direct their youthful energy and abilities towards a promising future of the continent.
Simpson spoke during the opening ceremony of the fourth Nigerian cohort of the YALI programme facilitated by the YALI Regional Leadership Centre (RLC), Ghana in partnership with the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) in Topo, Badagry, Lagos.
Simpson said: “I wish to remind you that as young persons, you must draw upon your energy, drive and enthusiasm in a positive way. The evidence of your youthfulness is in your vitality and labour.
“You must remember that you are born Africans. You will remain Africans, you must not give up on Africa and you must raise the African cause.”
YALI is an intervention programme by the United States government aimed at investing in the next generation of African leaders. YALI, through its Regional Leadership Centres across Africa – Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa, convenes Africans between 18 and 35 for an experiential learning across three specialisation tracks – business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership and public management.
Director YALI Regional Leadership Centre (RLC), Dr. Shola Safo-Duodu, described YALI selection as ‘rigorous’, enjoining those who qualified to count themselves lucky and utilise the life-transforming opportunity to acquire the right skill set for self-development in order to improve the conditions of their respective communities, countries and the continent in general.
She said 5000 entries were received to attend the event. Of the figure, 2,140 applicants scaled through to the online interview, while only 150 passed the final stage.
“The YALI module has been amended with respect to the way we deliver training. In the past, after the interview, we used to bring participants here for a five-week period. Now, there is an online component we have developed; so the selected participants have undertaken two weeks online work already.
“We put 150 people on the online programme and only 127 were the ones who completed within the deadline. So, within the two weeks, they covered leadership, ethics and accountability, and contemporary issues affecting Africa. They did these things through video presentations, power point presentations online and a dicussion forum online.”
Shola-Daodu added that the first three days of arrival would be spent recaping all the things that they had learnt online.
Participants, according to her, would spend 10 days in their preselected specialisation trajectory, while the last week would feature a simulation where real life case studies will be designed and presentations made accordingly.
Shola continued: “After they are finished here, we will pair them with a mentor who will work with them for a while. And for those who are young enough and without work experience, we will give them internship opportunities; those who are working or do not need internship would undertake a community service project and then they write a report before we consider them as graduates.”
Director of Studies and Head of Department of Management Consultancy Services of ASCON Dr. John Ayuba, spoke of the college expectations.
“ASCON expects the participants to behave ethically and honourably. We also expect that they would participate fully on the programme. So, it is not just about you coming and we can’t find you in the class or absconding from group exercises. We expect everybody to participate actively and be punctual to class so that training can take place the way we have scheduled them,” he said.