African Union launches Youth Digital and Innovation Fellowship Program

Aspiration 6 of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 calls for establishing an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children. Aspiration 6 states that by 2063, Africa will be a continent where all citizens will be actively involved in decision-making in all aspects of development, including social, economic, political and environmental. Africa will be a continent where no child, woman or man will be left behind.

For the realisation of this aspiration, it is imperative that opportunities must be provided to the youth through the launch of pertinent initiatives. One such prominent initiative is the AU Youth Digital and Innovation Fellowship Program which was launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on September 27, 2021 by the African Union Commission’s Youth Division within the Women, Gender and Youth Directorate (WGYD), in partnership with GIZ and AfriLabs. It aims to identify bright talent in the innovation sector from across the African continent.

The aim of the fellowship program is to harness digital technologies and innovation to transform African societies and economies. This initiative will initially support 10 fellows to co-create and build innovative tailor-made products and processes that improve the delivery of the AU’s mandate around Agenda 2063 and build internal capacity of host departments. The fellows will be deployed to the AUC for a period of 12 months.

The fellows will participate in several capacity building training that will be facilitated by top experts from the African innovation ecosystem. They will also receive mentorship support from experienced industry experts drawn from the AfriLabs community. The mentors will serve as non-resident fellows to advise and support the fellows throughout the Fellowship.

The fellowship program is a robust fellowship program that identifies and deploys highly competent tech innovators within the African continent to organs within the African Union Headquarters and organs as ‘resident fellows’ to understand the system within those organs; identify challenges within the system and propose solutions to these challenges.

The fellows will be expected to co-create and build innovative tailor-made products and processes that improve the delivery of the African Union’s mandate especially in the context of good governance and citizens engagement. Additionally, the program will seek to facilitate conditions for building the internal capacity of the host African Union organs in the long term.

Speaking at the launch, the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, underscored that innovation and digitization transformation can stimulate job creation and contribute to the achievement of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

She stated that the launch of the Fellowship Program emphasizes the AUC’s commitment to fully achieving the 50/50 gender parity and 35% youth quota by 2025 as mandated by AU Heads of State and Government. “Our view is that engaging digitally-talented youth in developing sustainable digital and innovative solutions at all levels is an important tenet to achieving an integrated and inclusive digital society and economy in Africa that improves the quality of life of Africa’s citizens.” H.E the Deputy Chairperson said.

This Fellowship program is being implemented through support from the German Ministry for International Cooperation (BMZ) and implemented through a mutually reinforcing partnership with GIZ and AfriLabs.
The German Chancellor’s Personal Representative for Africa, H.E Gunter Nooke pledged the commitment and support of the Government of Germany towards the success of the program. “This opportunity means a lot for the meaningful data for social and economic development. I charge all youth with knowledge and experience to apply, and they will have the chance to make a long-lasting impact.

Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Union#/media/File:Flag_of_the_African_Union.svg