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young leaders french african foundation
On Monday, June 3, the list of 30 new ambassadors for the Young Leaders program was released. This program is a French-African Foundation initiative AFD is partnered with. Chosen from over 2,000 candidates from 54 countries, these emerging talents on the Franco-African economic scene will participate in two five-day seminars, one in France and one on the African continent.

“Building bridges” between Africa and France by providing support for the new generation of leaders on each side of the Mediterranean is the ambitious goal of the Young Leaders program developed by the recently established French-African Foundation, with the backing of AFD and under the distinguished patronage of Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana. At the end of a campaign that attracted over 2,000 candidates in 54 countries—including 36% of women candidates—thirty young French and African talents were chosen on Monday, June 3, to be the Foundation’s new ambassadors.

Supporting the New Franco-African Generation

During the week of July 7–13, they will follow accelerated training in Paris that includes team-building, mentoring, workshops, discussions and high-level meetings. In October, the winners will spend a week in Ghana discovering the public, private, voluntary and media ecosystem of this country, considered to be the world’s most dynamic by the International Monetary Fund.

Whether they are active on the economic, political and cultural, public, private or voluntary scene, they will all have the opportunity to train, learn and communicate. They will also be able to discuss the economic, social, societal and environmental challenges that surround them.

At AFD, we continue to support the Young Leaders because we are convinced that the emergence of young, creative and visionary talents, who are motivated by a collective search for solutions to the challenges of sustainable development, is an essential prerequisite for building a shared world.

Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of AFD

An independent selection committee composed of experts in French-African relations had the demanding task of choosing the most promising candidates from among the 2,000 applications received.  Jury members included Malick Diawara, Editor-in-Chief of Point Afrique, Souad El Ouazzani, CSR Director at Deloitte, and Sarah Marniesse, Director of Campus AFD.

What were their selection criteria? The first was age. The Class of 2019 ambassadors are all between 28 and 49 years old. But they must also be able to demonstrate “commitment in private and public sectors” and “have a special professional and/or personal and/or voluntary-work relationship with France and Africa that has lasted for at least three years.

These criteria are broad enough to include a diverse group of new stakeholders on the Franco-African economic and political scene. Among the winners, there is a defender of LGBT rights from Madagascar, as well as an investment fund manager from Morocco and a Ugandan who was behind the development of a scheme to combat early marriage in his country.


A Female-Dominated Class of 2019

We chose people who are all exceptional and outstanding but who don’t resemble each other in any way. They would definitely be able to do great things without our help. But we provide them with a network and a boost,” explains to Le Monde, Khaled Igue a member of the jury—and a former Young Leader—who founded the Africa 2030 Think Tank Club.

It is also worth noting that the group is female-dominated: there are 16 women to 14 men. This year, English-speaking Africa has a strong presence, with Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda among the ten most-represented countries, along with Cameroon, France, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Benin.

“We are especially proud of this group of Young Leaders, comments Rémy Rioux, because it brings together as many women as men from very diverse geographical and professional, social and university, and cultural and political backgrounds, who share a desire to build bridges between the continents and lay the foundations for a shared narrative. My dear Young Leaders, amaze us! We are at your side to build a fairer and more peaceful world.”

List of Winners

Adan Abbey (Somaliland), Wande Abe (Nigeria), Delphine Adenot-Owusu (France), Magalie Anderson (Côte d’Ivoire), Tatianna Lukama Binda (RDC), Sarah Bouhassoun (Algérie, France), Nelson Mendela Camara (Mali, France), Max Cuvellier (France), Sandrine de Guio (France), Sidi Mohamed Dhaker (Mauritanie), Melissa Etoke Eyaye (Cameroun, France), Jimmy Kalombo (Afrique du Sud), Yann Kasay (Madagascar, France), Gwamaka Kifukwe (Tanzanie), Khady Koné Dicoh (Côte d’Ivoire, France), Sanae Lahlou (Maroc), Benjamin Lebrave (France, Etats-Unis), Gérardine Mahoro (Rwanda), Vladimir Mendes Borges (Cap-Vert, France), Landry Mugisha (Burundi), Brian Mutebi (Ouganda), Charlène Ntsiba (Congo, France), Zippora Okoth (Kenya), Linda Olagunju (Afrique du Sud), Mathieu Rabarinirina (Madagascar), Maxine Reinforf-Partey (Ghana), Japhet Sekenya (Tanzanie), Kamil Senhaji (Maroc, France), Fatoumata Sy (Sénégal), Lynda Tezkratt (Algérie, France).

Further reading:

At The AFD Conference on Decent Work, “Making Labor a Common Good”