Young Leaders Pose for a photo before the opening dinner for cohort 2


Africa currently boasts of a youthful population with a whole 70% of its population youthful below 35 years. This characterizes a demographic phase in which the cradle of mankind is youthful, energetic and embodying promise. This youthful population brings with it various opportunities and challenges for the continent, as we stand most African countries are at above 50% rates of youth unemployment.  The world and Africa as well is at the vanguard of investing energies and resources to find the silver bullet to what the world preferably calls the ‘youth bulge’. An instrumental term that loosely refers to the soaring numbers of young people in the world in Africa and some parts of Asia.

The Young African Leaders Initiative is one such platform where great minds have put together an initiative to find solutions for African Youth problems. The finding of the solutions is with the needs of the young Africans in mind and with the ultimate objective of producing a breed of transformational leaders. The centre seeks to nurture a breed of Young African leaders who refuse to conform to retrogressive leadership practices but rather define a ‘New Africa’. The centre has also set out to incubate a breed of transformational leaders which requires strategic deliberate investments that seek to nurture leadership and provide fertile ground for the flourishing of talent and skills.

The YALI Regional Leadership Centre in Eastern Africa has brought together a second cohort of bright minds burning with the desire and passion to be part of the change that will bring to us the new Africa. Below are insights from various young African Leaders from some of the 14 countries represented at the Eastern African YALI Regional Leadership Centre.

Hi, my name is LEONEL K, BAKIKO from Central Africa Republic, I am 23 years old., a Dynamic and energetic young man who always want to go the extra mile to make things happen. Am passionate about #changing life and being part of a #transformation generation that will inspire and empower youth in my community to participate in the consolidation of peace and sustainable development and enhance quality of life for all and lead positive social change deliver value to people in my community. I think YALI is a great platform for young leader to interact and connect to one another

The Cohort 2 participants are so dynamic and energetic. They have so much potential in them and I just like the energy in each one them the social cohesion, the collaboration and they are perception about Africa.

Margaret Chang, South Sudan; to work with people one needs to be accommodating, collaborative and most of all patient. My expectations from the YALI regional leadership centre is to learn grow and explore both in my personal and professional life.

Richard Kagimu, Uganda; The Idea of being in the same room with many talented young leaders from diverse backgrounds is just WOW! YALI brings the best in you and empowers you to be a change agent. I anticipate making a lot of meaningful connections and friendships.

The above sentiments and anticipations are just from a brief sweet encounter amongst the young leaders. These sentiments represent a cohort willing to take a journey from their comfort zones to great heights. A cohort ready to open their minds and interact with fellow young leaders from diverse backgrounds and one that appreciates the ingredients others bring in this kitchen where a New Africa is born. I will personally take with me a great deal of experiences and lessons, a great wealth of knowledge based on my interactions with great minds at the YALI Regional Leadership Centre.

I have laughed and cried with some of them already, most importantly we organised ourselves, thought together and dreamt of influencing positive change together.  Africa finds hope in great minds and these young leaders who offer themselves for leadership will bring the much needed through platforms such as YALI.

I end with a paraphrased quote from the great Thomas Sankara; The revolution and young people’s liberation go together. We do not talk of young people’s emancipation as an act of charity or because of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution because youth hold up the other half of the sky.


Catherine is a Mandela Fellow 2016, Women Deliver Young Leader and member of Youth RISE International working group. Catherine is a passionate young African feminist activist with over 7 years of experience in advancing gender equality, youth development and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of sustainable development through movement building, digital and social media, policy advocacy and capacity building for young women and adolescents girls. Catherine is currently Deputy Director at Dandelion Kenya, and sits on the SDGs Kenya Forum coordination committee. Catherine has engaged with various global and regional policy processes such as ICPD Beyond 2014 review, Beijing +20 and the post 2015 development agenda. She co-authored the article ‘Leave No One Behind; Will African Women be left behind in the post 2015 development agenda ,an article published on the East African Business Monthly in February 2015. Catherine launched the #SRHRDialogues, an online advocacy and awareness raising platform on SRHR and #YAFDialogues, an online platform anticipated to be a permanent mobilizing platforms borne out of an African feminist dialogue 2015 in Accra. Follow her on Twitter: @catherinenyamb1

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