African Union Fellowship empowers young African innovators for sustainable growth

The African Union Digital & Innovation Fellowship program, a brainchild of the African Union in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and AfriLabs has opened new horizons for young African innovators.

African Union logo

Launched on September 20, 2021, by the African Union and its partners, this prestigious program has provided 13 exceptional individuals from across Africa with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the vibrant environment of the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, as well as other eminent organs within the African Union like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) domiciled in Ghana.

Expressing his enthusiasm for this remarkable initiative, Daniel Adugna, Lead, Youth Development, African Union Commission highlighted that young people are the majority on the continent, combined with their interests and strides in tech and innovation, they are the perfect demography to lead digital transformation across Africa. He also emphasized the transformative imp act the fellowship program has had on the first cohort, equipping them with essential skills and knowledge while strengthening the African Union and its various organs.

Nanko Madu, the Director of Programmes at AfriLabs, highlighted the extraordinary prospects offered by the program, including a year-long work experience at various units and organs within the African Union headquarters. As resident fellows, participants gain invaluable insights into the inner workings of these units, identify data management challenges, and collaborate to co -create innovative, tailor-made products and processes that enhance data management systems and improve the overall efficiency of the African Union.

These accomplished fellows, aged between 25 and 35, represent a new generation of tech innovators and influential leaders within their communities and countries.

Ray Nkum, a distinguished fellow from the previous cohort and hailing from Ghana, brought a wealth of experience to the program. His impressive background includes serving as the country lead for BudgIT Ghana, a civic tech CSO that utilizes technology, research, and advocacy to raise public awareness about public finance and the significance of participatory democracy in fostering accountability. Ray was attached to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Accra, Ghana—an essential and dynamic organ of the African Union. As one of the youngest units, AfCFTA plays a vital role in boosting intra-African trade, particularly in value -added production and across all sectors of Africa's economy, thereby creating a unified African market.

Reflecting on his fellowship experience, Ray expressed his immense satisfaction, deeming it the most impactful journey of his life. Through this program, he delved deep into the inner workings of the African Union, honed his ability to thrive under pressure, and broadened his understanding of trade and teamwork. Ray collaborated with Aimee, a fellow from Congo who was also assigned to AfCFTA. Together, they developed an innovative AI chatbot designed to guide individuals through the fundamental steps of trading—an ingenious solution to address the data management challenges they uncovered within the unit.

"The African Union Digital & Innovation Fellowship program has empowered me to unleash my problem-solving abilities, enabling me to become a better innovator and contribute to Africa's growth," expressed Ray with gratitude. "The relationships I cultivated with fellows from different African countries have expanded my network and ignited a collective desire within us to collaborate in b ridging Africa's digital divide."

Esther Ndagire, another remarkable fellow from Uganda, stands as yet another testament to the transformative power of the African Union Digital & Innovation Fellowship program, extending its reach beyond the confines of the African Union Headquarters. Esther was assigned to the African Union Development Agency, NEPAD Commission (AUDA-NEPAD), based in South Africa, following her selection as a fellow.

Her fellowship experience was nothing short of extraordinary. During her journey, she spearheaded the development of a cutting-edge tool and portal, fostering seamless collaboration between the commission and the agency. Simultaneously, Esther formed profound connections with fellow participants and colleagues from diverse African nations, resulting in a tapestry of meaningful relationships. Undoubtedly, the fellowship enriched her life in countless ways, leaving an indelible mark on her personal and professional growth.

"I emerged as a better leader, and my perspective on leveraging technology for Africa's betterment underwent a transformative shift," shared Esther enthusiastically. "The importance of communication and collaboration resonated deeply with me. The fellowship program emphasized innovation and the cultivation of networks with partners across Africa, showcasing the power of these connections in amplifying our impact."

The African Fellowship program stands as an unequivocal testament to the boundless potential of young African innovators and their indispensable role in propelling sustainable change across the continent.

By providing opportunities, fostering collaboration , and nurturing the next generation of trailblazers, this program has created a powerful platform for unleashing innovation and igniting a transformative impact.

As these bright minds continue to flourish and shape the future, the African Fellowship progra m serves as a beacon of hope, inspiring a generation to embrace their ingenuity, overcome challenges, and forge a prosperous and inclusive Africa for all.

#FeaturedBy: Thrust communication Limited


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