Aminetou Bilal at the Youth Connekt Africa 2018

On 8 October 2018, Aminetou Bilal; President of Selfie Mbalite NGO, environmental and climate advocate from Mauritania, and member of the African Union Youth Advisory Council, attended the Youth Connekt Africa in Kigali, Rwanda with more than 1500 delegates from the continent.

The opening ceremony was marked by a musical performance of young artists, accompanied by 90 young people from the 9th cohort of the Volunteer Corps of the African Union, raising their flags. Aminetou is also among the AU volunteers.

Aminatou Bilal

The summit is marked by the hashtag #Africastartswithme which says a lot about the importance of empowering young people.

Inspiring keynotes by stakeholders at the summit on irregular migration, Sexual Reproductive Health, SDG’s, entrepreneurship, gender, challenges and opportunities for girls pursuing STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), AFCFTA; how it can generate growth and create multiple business opportunities for youth.

 Some of the main keynotes include:

  1. The UNDP Africa Regional Director Ms. Ahuna Eziakonwa: “Our African deserves the right to live their dreams in Africa instead of dying in the desert or the ocean”
  2. Transforming Africa through the prevention of teen pregnancy by UNFPA Rwanda
  3. Kill the inner voice and mindsets, leverage, adopt the gig economy, give males a seat in gender discussions, avoid confrontational speeches that we use towards different genders,
  4. “be Bold, aspire to be the number one, go and get it” by Ms. Diane Ofwona, the regional Director, UN Women office for West and Central Africa.

I call on all young Africans to participate in future editions of Youth Connekt Africa to build their capacity, inspire others, and return home even more motivated to have the Africa we want.

By Aminetou Bilal- Get in touch via LinkedIn

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ACP YPN & ADYFE join forces at EU consultation on 2nd Joint Valletta Action Plan

On 25 October 2018, Aliyyah Ahad, ACP YPN Migration Expert together with Celine Fabrequette, African Youth Forum in Europe (ADYFE) Head Project Manager, participated in a civil society organisation, youth and diaspora consultation on the 2nd Joint Valletta Action Plan, ahead of the next Senior Officials Meeting  in Addis Ababa. The European External Action Service (EEAS) hosted the event, with representatives from the African Union (AU), including representatives from the Khartoum Process, and Embassy of Ethiopia, among others.


ACP YPN and ADYFE presented joint recommendations for consideration, including:

  1. Continue to develop better qualifications recognition for third country nationals in the EU, including assessments of credentials and skills
  2. Develop more legal channels of migration, particularly for students, entrepreneurs and young workers through the Erasmus+
  3. Mainstream diaspora youth-led organisations into decision making
  4. Support inter-regional migration schemes within Africa, including the African Union’s Agenda 2063
  5. Ensure that EU funding is used ethically and that criteria for the awarding of contracts includes hiring local workers at all levels—this would highlight expertise and added value already within Africa.
  6. Create strategic communications campaigns that can shift the dialogue on migration away from a binary view of good or bad.
  7. Address non-economic root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement by supporting peacekeeping, and tackling the sale of illegal armaments.
  8. While working towards the reduction of remittance costs, develop a secure system where diaspora can directly inject funds into development projects, such as diaspora bonds.

ACP YPN and ADYFE applaud the EEAS for acknowledging the important role that diaspora youth should play in the 2nd Joint Valletta Action Plan, and endeavour to continue to contribute further to the successful completion of this process.

By Aliyyah Ahad – Get in touch via Linkedin

& Celine Fabrequette – Get in touch via Linkedin

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ACP YPN Migration Expert at the European Parliament, Brussels

On 18 October 2018, Aliyyah Ahad, ACP YPN migration expert, was part of a panel organised by Housing Europe on ‘Successful Inclusion of migrants and refugees in European Cities: How local players are making it happen and what support is needed from EU level’ at the European Parliament, Brussels. The host of the event was MEP Brando Benifei, rapporteur of the EP report, Refugees: social inclusion and integration into the labour market. Access the link to the event here.


Some of the main ideas Aliyyah presented include:

  1. There is a need to think differently about migrant integration. It is not a simple two-way process but rather a dynamic whole-of-society change in which everyone must grow. Including community members in the decisions that will affect them, and giving migrants and refugees the agency to contribute towards and shape their new communities is essential.
  2. The challenges posed by the shortage of affordable housing are not new, but they were exacerbated by the migration crisis. With this additional pressure also came new energy and platforms for promising social innovations. More work is needed to distill the essential ingredients for success so that these best practices can be replicated and scaled elsewhere.
  3. More than ever, citizens are carefully scrutinising the economic and social outcomes of newcomers. As more funding under the EU’s proposed Multi-annual Financial Framework (MFF) is dedicated towards local actors and social cohesion, it is crucial to establish clear and measurable benchmarks of success to justify the increased spending and to communicate more effectively with the public.  

In conclusion, migration has put a new spin on longstanding societal challenges in Europe, such as shortages of affordable and desirable housing and feelings of social isolation and loneliness. But the added pressure and attention is also shining a light on promising practices and energising communities to tackle these issues in a way that benefits everyone.

By Aliyyah Ahad – Get in touch via Linkedin

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ACP YPN on ‘Youth in Institutions’ for Black History Month EU


On 16th October, in celebration of Black History Month EU, ACP Young Professionals held their second event of the month at IHE Brussels on ‘Youth In Institutions’. The event featured a 4-person panel and discussion on the current state of ACP youth in European institutions, how these young professionals found their way into their institutions, and how to improve the conditions. The panel featured, Nicole Kalitsi, an university student from the U.S. who is currently interning at the European Network of Cultural Centres (ENCC). Nicole has previously interned with other Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA) and with an U.S. Congressman. Nicole’s long term goal is to work for the US State Department. The second panelist, Sarah Gane, is a recent college graduate who now is President of Quartiers du Monde after previously interning with ENAR. Celine Fabrequette from ADYFE was the next panelist, she has a wealth of experience, including working as ACP Young Professionals’ Secretary General! Our final panelist, Diana Cocoru has been a consultant for multiple European Institutions and has numerous degrees specializing in everything from business to diplomacy!


After their introductions, moderator and intern for ACP YPN, Tais Idi-Infante asked the panel three thought-provoking questions that began a great debate and also involved the engaged audience. The three questions were:

  1. What challenges do you think ACP youth face at your job? Have you faced any of these challenges? How have you worked to overcome them? Do any persist?;
  2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years and how will your current employment at an institution help you get there?;
  3. What opportunities have you been privy to because of your position at an institution? Do you see any opportunities for other ACP youth? If not, how do you believe your institution could create these opportunities?

The debate that developed from these questions highlighted how education can have an impact on the future job opportunities for youth. This point raised a counter-debate on how education differs in the United States from Europe. One of the agreed upon points from our panelists is that when an opportunity is not there for ACP Youth, it’s important to make one. Often as youth and people of color, our voices are silenced and our opinions devalued so it’s important to find or create, and then maintain a space that you will be heard and respected. Celine spoke of this the most and how she worked on this issue with ACP YPN. Nicole spoke on her previous internship where she formed a new position that centered on diversity and inclusion; and Diana and Sarah spoke on how they began their own NGO’s to create a platform for their voices.


In conclusion, the event was not one to miss! Discussions like this expand not only the minds of the audience but also of our panelists whom continue learning and growing. The event affirmed the goals of ACP Young Professionals Network and of Black History Month EU! As youth and as people of color we deserve to have our voices heard, respected and celebrated!

Black History Month EU continues this weekend with an Afro-beat class at Fred Academy! Also check out our next event on Digital Inclusion and Entrepreneurship next Thursday at IHE Brussels. See the rest of the month’s events on the calendar below!

BHMEU schedule

By Tais Idi-Infante – Get in touch via Linkedin
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ACP YPN Expert at Royal Commonwealth Society International Meeting

On the 16th October 2018, Asia La Chapelle Williams (SDG 11&13 Expert) presented the work of the Sustainability Campaign to date as part of a partnership project with the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN). The participants of the event included members from the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, and the Blue Charter Initiative. See the attached agenda here: 2018 International Meeting Programme – Day 2


Some of the main recommendations include:

1. Reduction of plastic consumption and improved waste management across the Commonwealth;
2. Measuring and taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint through tools and lifestyle choices – 2.2 billion people across the Commonwealth, 60% of whom are youth have a significant impact in addressing the climate change challenge;
3. Required support for future sustainability campaigns that take into account individual actions as well as the influence and inclusion of youth in policy making at a local, national, regional and international level.


In conclusion, the UN IPCC report launched in early October 2018, provided us with some stark choices to meet the 1.5 degree celsius threshold and in order to meet these challenges and tackle climate change, radical action is required at an individual and global level to meet these targets. 2030 provides us with a small window of opportunity to create a better world, a protected environment and a more stable climate.

By Asia Williams – Get in touch via Linkedin:

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ACP YPN at no. 10 with UK PM May for Black History Month, UK

On 15th October, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Director & Founder was invited to celebrate  Black History Month at a reception marking the UN Decade of People of African Descent at no.10 Downing Street with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.  PM Theresa May said, “Black History Month serves as an important reminder to us of the immense contribution that African and Caribbean communities have made in British life for centuries.” Yentyl was recognised for her immense contributions and as an exemplary Young People’s Ambassador to the EU of African-Caribbean descent, including the launch of Black History Month EU #BHMEU.  See the video below which includes insights from the event featuring Yentyl.

Yentyl discussed the strides the ACP YPN has made for youth at the EU level; the strength of partnership between the Commonwealth & ACP YPN; and the key role ACP YPN plays on trade at the EU-Cariforum Consultative Committee. Moreover, Yentyl emphasised that the efforts made by the UK to recognise ‘Black History’ must be emulated and celebrated at the EU-level, hence why ACP YPN launched Black History Month EU #BHMEU. See her video on the launch here.

Get in touch with Yentyl via LinkedIn  & see tweets here

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ACP YPN  on decentralized cooperation at Platforma 10 years anniversary. On 10 October 2018, Aïssatou Touré , ACP YPN Public Policy Officer spoke during the opening ceremony of  Platforma 10 years anniversary on decentralized cooperation alongside: Rob Metz, Soest Mayor (the Netherlands ) , Chairman of the International delegation of VNG; Linda McAvan, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Development Committee;  Vincent Codjo Acakpo, Mayor of Dogbe (Benin), co-laureate of the 2018 Platforma Awards on decentralized cooperation.


Aïssatou discussed within the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) – European Union (EU) partnership the role of (1) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including youth organizations in decentralized cooperation, (2) the role of young people in supporting the implementation of SDGs  at the local level and (3) the engagement of local governments to mobilize the potential of youth.

First, Aïssatou gave her definition of decentralized cooperation that should:

  1.  allow local authorities to exercise their autonomy and discretion depending on the needs of their local population by engaging with different stakeholders on a local level in particular with CSOs;
  2. allow decentralized participatory democracy and governance including transparency and accountability mechanisms;
  3.  through city-to-city cooperation promote exchange of technical and financial know-how.

One key component of decentralized cooperation is the involvement of CSOs to identify that the areas of cooperation are consistent and in line with community needs and priorities. This implies that participatory approaches must be integrated by authorities as outlined in article 2 of the ACP – EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA) who defines participation as a fundamental principle of the cooperation between ACP countries and the EU.

Second, despite the fact that there is no “youth” Sustainable Development Goal  (Youth is referred in 5 of the 169 targets), Aïssatou highlighted the importance of the role of the youth in supporting the implementation of SDGs in aligning them with regional and local agendas and by creating enabling environment for youth and youth organizations. As such, Aïssatou used the example of ACP YPN providing a platform for young people to play an active role in policy-making processes at the local, regional, national and international level, assuring equality of opportunity in line with article 26 of the CPA and aiming to ensure inclusive, responsive decision-making at all levels as defined in SDG 16,7.

Third, decentralization can only strengthen local governments making them autonomous, accountable and enhance their services delivery if young people – who are the main beneficiaries  of their policies- are involved. Indeed, permanent spaces must be put in place by local authorities to use the potential of youth in defining solutions. As an example, ACP YPN created a Youth Forum at the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly giving the opportunity for young people to engage dialogue with more than 100 representatives from the ACP countries and the EU.

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In conclusion, Aïssatou recognizes the necessity of transferring governance to local authorities and the importance to create permanent mechanisms to ensure sustainable participation in particular of CSOs and  youth organizations. This will allow an increased participation of local population and enhance ownership of development strategies by the direct beneficiaries.




Want to know more about Governance and youth inclusion ? Get in touch with Aïssatou on  LinkedIn, Twitter.

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ACP YPN Recommendations on the new EU Youth Strategy

On 1st October, ACP YPN launched their ACP YPN Communication on The New EU Youth Strategy: 9 Recommendations for an Inclusive Youth Strategy”. This paper builds on several years of advocacy on EU-ACP youth affairs, ACP YPN’s participation in the EU conference on the Future of the EU Youth Strategy (May 2017); the ACP YPN response to the EU’s consultation on the new Youth Policy (September 2017); the ACP YPN participation in the European Economic & Social Committee’s (EESC) hearing on the new EU Youth Strategy . The Communication is also symbolically launched on the 1st October, the first day of the launch of Black History Month EU – bringing a month on black history awareness to the EU. Access the 4-page communication here.


The Communications explains that, “Investing in ACP Youth & youth of ACP heritage in the EU’s new Youth Strategy is crucial to build a sustainable future. ACP YPN fully supports the commitments outlined in the new EU Youth Strategy to empower all young people, including youth of ACP heritage living in the EU. Based on our extensive experience providing a platform for young people to play an active role in policy-making – in line with Article 26 of the ACP-EU Cotonou Partnership Agreement – we have drawn up this Communication to present 9 key recommendations to EU-ACP policy-makers under the three main headings of the new EU Youth Strategy: Engage, Connect, Empower.”

Some of the recommendations include:

  1. Further investment in and cooperate with organisations directly involved with youth of ACP heritage [Engage];
  2. Promote programmes for circular migration, youth mobility programmes between the EU and ACP countries by enhancing partnerships between academic institutions. [Connect];
  3. Provide and broaden alternatives to traditional education for accessing the labour market and job creation, through traineeships, apprenticeship, vocational training and incentives for youth-led start-ups and entrepreneurs. [Empower]

Read our full list of recommendations in the four page report. The contents of the documents include 9 recommendations in total that have been advocated for and worked on at key fora – including the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Youth Forums & Committee meetings; the EU-Cariforum Consultative Commitee; the 4th EU-Africa Youth Summit, amongst others.

By Adélaïde Hirwe and Kelly-Ann Fonderson – Get in touch with Adélaïde via Linkedin  and Kelly- Ann via Linkedin

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ACP YPN Expert on Youth Inclusion in T&T’S Budget Debate

On 01 October 2018, the presentation of the National Budget of Trinidad and Tobago was delivered. The debate on the Appropriation Bill is currently ongoing, having moved from the House of Representatives to the Senate.


Young professional Aurelia Bruce was on hand at local news station TV6 to give initial views on the presentation delivered by the Minister of Finance earlier that afternoon in the Budget Presentation. As part of a panel that included other young persons, Bruce outlined some of the expectations she had for areas of government expenditure in 2019 and highlighted areas where increased focus should be placed to advance economic and social development. This included opportunities for youth engagement in economic activity.

One of the key concerns raised by Bruce is the limited engagement of youth in policy making, and in this context on issues of debt and development. As she noted in the discussion “any discussion on debt or development must include youth, as it is on their backs that the debt is incurred and on their backs development will be sought and will be brought.”

Other areas she highlighted in the discussion included the need for a holistic approach to the fight against crime, commending the government for the increased inclusion and use of technology in the Police Service. On the other hand however, Bruce highlighted the need for institutional development and capacity building in other areas such as the Coast Guard, Prisons, Judiciary, Customs and Excise and other agencies. In this way, crime prevention, detection and justice would be enhanced and the flow of illegal weapons and drugs will be stymied.

On the issues of revenue generation, trade, development and diversification, Bruce noted that the time for diversification is now and that it would be a betrayal of future generations if the country was unable to execute a successful diversification project. In her view, supporting new industries and growth in the non-energy sector (as oil and gas remains the mainstay of Trinidad and Tobago’s economy) is critical.

The budget debate will be concluded in early November. As the debate continues in Parliament, Bruce will continue the discussion on the National Budget 2019 on her youth-centered podcast “SOAPBOX” in the coming weeks.


Get to know Expert Aurelia Bruce:

Working at the intersection of business, government and the international economy, Bruce is an international trade researcher working with a Trade and Business Support Organization. She has spent a considerable amount of time conducting policy reviews and analysis on issues affecting the business environment and assessing challenges to compliance or use of fiscal, trade and legal measures and regulations. Bruce has the added experience of conducting trade research in the Caribbean and in Canada and has done research on African and Pacific nations. Passionate about regional integration and development she hopes to positively contribute to the Caribbean integration movement. One way of doing so is through her vocation in trade policy and in particular the development of Caribbean creative and cultural industries. She graduated from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, with a Master’s degree in International Trade Policy (Distinction) and a BSc. in Political Science with Law (Hons). Bruce is also an alumni of the Government of Canada Emerging Leaders of the Americas Program and the United States Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program.


By Aurelia Bruce – Get in touch via Linkedin or Email

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ACP YPN Launch Black History Month EU (#BHMEU)


BLACK HISTORY MONTH EU 2018 (#BHMEU) brings a month of Black History awareness to the EU bubble! We are excited to present a number of events run by the ACP YPN Brussels team, and feature our partners events across the month. The flyer below features all the amazing events coming up this October! Follow the hyperlinks below the picture for more information about our events! We hope to see you there!

BHMEU schedule

Thursday 4 October, 09h30-17h00 – Encouraging and facilitating African Diaspora Youth Entrepreneurship – Towards Accelerated inclusive growth and Sustainable Development (AU Mission to the EU and ACP group of countries) at La Chatelain Hotel, Rue Du Chatelain 17*

Friday 5 October, 09h00-17h00 – Global diaspora week (African Diaspora Network in Europe) at EU Parliament *

Thursday 4 October, 15h00-16h30 – Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development in sub-Saharan Africa ( Future Climate For Africa), Online*

Tuesday 9 October, 10h00-18h00 – Migration in the EU-ACP partnership after 2020 (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung) invitation only.

Tuesday 9 October, 18h30-21h00 – ACP Young Professionals Network Social Networking (ACP YPN) at Radisson Blu**

Tuesday 9 October – The role of religious actors in conflict prevention, management & resolution (KAS & EPP) Register by 3rd Oct. via*

Wednesday 10 October, 11h00-18h00 – Platforma 10th anniversary: Decentralisation & Africa (Platforma) at Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium*

Thursday 11 October, 17h30-21h30 – Apero in Red (La Senegauloise)

Tuesday 16 October, 18h30-21h00 – ACP Youth in Institutions (ACP YPN).**

Saturday 20 October, 13h00-15h30 – Dance class: Afro-Beat (Dance on the move) at Fred Academy*

Tuesday 23 October, 18h30-20h00 – Why are there so few women in tech? (Womenquake) at Google Belgium HQ*

Tuesday 25 October, 18h00-20h00 – Digital inclusion and entrepreneurship : opportunities and challenges for youth of African descents (ACP YPN).**

Thursday, 25 October, 14h00-16h00 – CSO Exchange on Joint Valletta Action Plan Senior Officials Meeting (EEAS) on Invitation only

Tuesday 30 October, 18h00-20h00 – PAD Youth in Politics: Recommendations for Inclusive Organisation (ACP YPN) **

#ACPYouthTalk, #BHMEU, #BlackHistoryMonthEU. RSVP and share!!

*registration required

**registration required and available through EventBrite links on our Facebook page


By ACP YPN team

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