From November 21 to November 24, 2018, Aïssatou Touré ACP YPN Public Policy Officer was invited in Marrakesh to Africities 8th edition, the biggest democratic gathering in Africa, organized by Unites Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA). During 4 days, this major event occurring every three years gathered more than 7000 participants including local and regional authorities, governments, civil society organizations, financial institutions and private sector.

Cités Unies France and Platforma co-organized the session “Decentralized cooperation, an effective tool for youth empowerment ” in which Aïssatou intervened as a speaker alongside Frédéric Vallier, General Secretary of Platforma ; Jean-Marie Tétart, Mayor of Houdan (France), president of Yvelines International Cooperation and Development; Patrice Ayivi, Mayor of Aného (Togo) ; Zakia Mrini, President of the Moroccan Institute of Local Development; and Roger Mahazoasy, Director of the Decentralized Cooperation of the MID (Madagascar).

With a population of over 200 million young people between the age of 15-26 years old in Africa, there is an urgent need to implement policies focusing on young people in order to benefit from the demographic dividend of this young population. In this context, three points were developed by Aïssatou on ways local authorities can improve employment and employability for young people: (1) Identify the needs of young people and adopt policies in line with those needs; (2) Partnering with different stakeholders ; and (3) Support young people’s entrepreneurship initiatives.

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First,  decentralized cooperation is essential in allowing local authorities to adopt consistent policies in line with the needs of the beneficiaries of their policies, in this case young people. Identifying the needs of young people is indeed the first step before adopting any policies targeting them and this can be done by creating permanent structures for young people to express themselves and help the local authorities prioritize the areas of cooperation. As an example Madagascar founded a local youth council to allow the youths to enter in dialogue with policy-makers and orientate policies. Another example is the municipality of Aného (Togo) who carried out a survey among the young people to determine the field of study that interested them if a technical school were to be created. The creation of the school was a success as it was in line with the needs of the youth.

Second, local authorities can partner and support Civil Society Organizations, private sector and develop through city-to-city cooperation programs contributing in Youth Development and Youth Leadership. This will allow young people to gain skills outside the classic school curricula and help them attain their full potential. The gained social, ethical, physical, cognitive skills can support them to define their personal and professional goals, widen their horizon but also gain self-esteem, empower themselves and others. Concretely this can be done through the development of volunteering programs, through city-to-city cooperation, but also inside the municipality to allow young people to get to know more about the work their municipality is doing and gain skills as well as experience.

Third, support youth entrepreneurship initiatives is a key step to enhance youth empowerment as it will allow them to test local innovative solutions, create jobs for themselves and others but also help them develop socially and economically their community. As an example, Les Déterminés is a youth-led company providing training and coaching for young entrepreneurs including those coming from rural and poor areas of the Paris region. The trained young entrepreneurs go back in their own communities to create jobs and improve the living conditions of the local population.

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In conclusion, efficient, sustainable employment policies for young people can only be implemented if:

  1. Inclusive public policies identifying the needs of the beneficiaries of those policies and including the youth in this process are put in place;
  2. Partnerships with relevant stakeholders supporting and implementing youth development initiatives are created;
  3. Ownership and support is given to youth initiatives.



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

Check out Platforma’s article on the session : Africitiés 2018, city-to-city cooperation to empower young people.

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ACP YPN Expert Kelly-Ann Fonderson at Black Girl Convention

On 25 November 2018, Kelly-Ann Fonderson, ACP YPN Policy Expert and Youth
Ambassador, presented her keynote speech at the second annual Black Girl Convention in Bristol, UK. Black Girl Convention is the largest event in the South West of the UK dedicated to women and girls of African and Caribbean heritage. The event includes inspirational talks, workshops, live demos on topics ranging from arts, science, tech, activism, health, business and more.

Kelly-Ann at Black girls convention
Kelly-Ann Fonderson speaking at Black Girl Convention 2018. Photo credits: Black Girl Convention

In her speech, Kelly-Ann shared three key lessons which helped her while working abroad and navigating high level EU policy spaces as a young woman of colour. Her three overarching lessons were centred around confidence, self-care and inspiring communities.

1. Confidence:

Showing up as your full self

What you bring to the table is valuable

Believe in yourself and your voice

2. Self-Care:

Navigating stereotypes and labels

Practice self-compassion

Reframe your mindset

3. Inspiring Communities:

Connect with like-minded people who share the same vision and passion

Build a strong support system

Stretch beyond your comfort zone

Kelly-Ann highlighted issues of representation and encouraged young people to engage in politics and decision making spaces. In sharing her personal journey, she implored young people to think of themselves beyond preconceptions and stereotypes that may pose as barriers towards them fulfilling their full potential. Her speech resonated with both young and older women in the audience leading to a discussion on building resilience amongst young people and women.


By Kelly-Ann Fonderson – Get in touch via Linkedin

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ACP YPN expert on Educational Developments in the Caribbean

On 19th November 2018, ACP YPN expert Rhody-Ann THORPE presented her paper on “Educational Developments in the English-Speaking Caribbean in a post colonial context” at the Université du Littoral Cote d’Opale in France, during the university’s annual research conference. The conference was entitled “Education and learning in English-Speaking and French-Speaking Countries: heritage, context and representations and also welcomed scholars from France, the UK, French Guyana; Rhody-Ann was the only Caribbean representative on the panel.

Rhody-Ann’s paper looked at how the Caribbean region constitutes a multidimensional space which is characterized by cultural, political and socio-economical diversity; as well as a shared colonial heritage. In particular, it expounded on how policy in the domain of Education was first pursued during the colonial era and the impact that it had on access, curriculum and teacher training. It also examined how these countries, which are mainly classed as developing countries, have adapted to the post colonial context which is also characterised by regionalism and how this has in turn impacted on education systems on all levels.

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This paper comes at a crucial time when discourses related to reparations by foreign universities are multiplying; including the University of Glasgow which has started investigations with regards to its potential role in slavery. Furthermore, the colonial heritage in the Caribbean space is still quite topical as several days prior to the presentation, the countries of Antigua&Barbuda and Grenada organised a referendum to replace the British judicial Committee of the Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice. As Education occupies a preponderant place in public and budget policies led by Caribbean states, looking at educational developments with a post colonial lens is therefore quite relevant. In fact, the focus of Rhody-Ann’s PhD study is on the British influence on higher education policy in the English-Speaking Caribbean and in Ireland.

By Rhody-Ann THORPE – Get in touch with Rhody-Ann THORPE via Linkedin

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ACP YPN at the Global Youth Biodiversity Network

The Global Youth Biodiversity Network is an international network of youth organisations and individuals from all over the world whose common goal is to prevent the loss of biodiversity. GYBN is divided into 3 chapters: Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). GYBN Africa organised a workshop in Nairobi Kenya from the 29th, October to the 04th, November. 17 African countries participated, including:  Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Malawi, Mauritius Island, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Sudan, Namibia, Tanzania, Madagascar and Comoros. ACP YPN was represented by Winfred Kagendo.

Day 1 focused on biodiversity policy and implementation. Kaddu Sebunya urged the youth to “keep building their capacity in conservation, take their spots and know the legal framework on conservation in their countries”. Fiesta Warinwa spoke about AWF’s efforts in conservation. Chritian Schwarzer talked about how GBYN relates to CBD.

Day 2 focused on how to Solve Biodiversity crisis? The participants were trained on dealing with complexity and system thinking (anecdote of Elephant under the OMIDYAR GROUP’s YouTube account was used to explain what it is and how to use it). Then they were tasked with applying the 2 skills learnt in group work on the following topics: urbanisation, climate change, mining, over-harvesting.

Day 3 focused on wildlife experience. On this day, in the morning session participants were tasked with finding a priority on different topics and present on them. These were: ecosystem restoration, coastal and marine biodiversity and blue economy , invasive alien species, access and benefit sharing and traditional knowledge and DSI, strategic environmental assessment, climate change and biodiversity, mainstreaming biodiversity into relevant sectors, natural capital accounting/resources, bio-safety, poaching and illegal wildlife trade, protected areas and other effective area-based conservation treasures, post-2020 biodiversity framework and gender mainstreaming. Then, there were testimonials from two conservation leaders, Fiesta Warinwa and Didi Wamukoga, and eventually a game drive in Nairobi National Park.

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Day 4 focused on policy advocacy, communication and outreach. There were 3 keynote speakers: Liz Gitari, Steve Itela and Peter Moll, all involved in conservation and advocacy. Liz Gitari gave insights on the legal framework involved in conservation. Steve Itela gave modules to adopt when lobbying: 1-conviction, 2- Commitment, 3- Team work 4- Know your target and your allies, 5-sustain the idea when you succeed. Peter  Moll advised building a solid team, contribute the best aspect of ourselves (speaking, writing, painting, media etc.) to advocate change and see failure as an opportunity. Youth Funding was also tackled. Key advice: Don’t request for funding from the government in a form of a petition but request audience, use technical language in your request for funds; and, know and understand the organisation’s language or jargon to best write in a way that suits them.

Day 5 focused on the presentation of group work by the various countries and the concluding remarks. For Kenya, the vision was to provide a platform of empowerment where young people from Kenya are provided with a space to showcase and grow their ideas, talents, skills, and experience through tailored projects meant to address specific biodiversity challenges at local, national, regional, and international level.

The workshop was concluded with remarks by Fiesta Warinwa from AWF; and certificates were issued by the Principal Secretary Ministry of Wildlife, Margaret Mwakima.

Winfred Kagendo, ACP YPN representative receiving her certificate.
Winfred Kagendo, ACP YPN representative receiving her certificate.

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ACP YPN Experts at S&D Africa Week 2018

On 5-9 November 2018, ACP YPN Experts Adélaïde  Hirwe and Kelly-Ann Fonderson attended S&D 3rd annual Africa Week at the European Parliament in Brussels to represent the African youth diaspora. They and 20 other youth representatives from Africa and Europe published a Youth Declaration which has now been submitted to leaders in the European Union and African Union.

K-A Fonderson presenting
Kelly-Ann Fonderson presenting on strong institutions
A Hirwe presenting on young contributions in their communities and SDG
Adélaïde Hirwe presenting on youth contribution to their communities

Kelly-Ann Fonderson facilitated the third session on strong institutions for reducing inequality, promoting decent and sustainable growth for a lasting peace and security. She argued that the inclusion of youth is quintessential to promoting sustainable growth and lasting peace especially in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa where youth represent the largest proportion of the population. She raised the need for youth forums where young people can influence policy and develop leadership skills. She emphasized the need for transparency in institutions to foster greater accountability to the people they are intended to serve. Finally, Kelly-Ann Fonderson called for a revision of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement ending in 2020 with regards to the economic pillar. She highlighted the need to enhance effective participation from relevant non-state actors especially at the regional level.

Adélaïde  Hirwe facilitated the fourth session on the first day of Africa week. She introduced the debate on the role of young people in their community for economic and social development leading to a sustainable future. She argued with reference to some examples that youth already contribute to the economic and social development in their communities. She highlighted the role digitalisation plays in enabling youth to better contribute to SDGs however acknowledged access to digital tools as a challenge many still face. Adélaïde Hirwe emphasized the need for policies to be tailored to local realities, in particular those aimed at young entrepreneurs who so often contribute to their communities through informal businesses.  She noted that ACP YPN encourages institutions to have further cooperation with youth organisations and multistakeholder synergy.

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On the second day of Africa week, Adélaïde  and Kelly Ann joined the youth leaders to draw the message of the youth. Kelly-Ann worked with a subgroup on strong institutions, sustainable growth and good governance. Adélaïde worked on education, skills development, digitalisation and entrepreneurship. The recommendations were focused on the need to adapt the economic, financial and educational systems to the needs of young local entrepreneurs who are often from the informal sector and emphasised the importance of giving young people access to new technology with appropriate solutions to the energy problem.

Some of the recommendations they helped draw were:

  • School programs need to be reformed to fit the realities and demands of the country as well as national and international contexts.
  • A financing system adapted to the realities of the field is required so that young people can build their business.

In conclusion, the youth believe that the future relationship between Africa and the EU should be one based on partnership and collaboration.


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 Lessons on Employability – University of Bristol

On 8th November, Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Director & Founder, presented her insights based on her experience working inside and outside the EU institutions, and on setting up ACP YPN, as part of the University of Bristol Employability week. Yentyl presented 9 key insights based around her motto: “Build your expertise, pursue your passions and never give up on your dreams!”

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Yentyl’s 9 principles were explained with reference to her 5year career working on trade policy in Brussels, and on her experience setting-up the international, award-winning NGO, ACP YPN:

Build your expertise
1) Define your interest and pursue it;
2) Spend time;
3) Develop patience.
Pursue your passions
4) Be solution-oriented;
5) Take risks;
6) Believe in your passions.
Never give up on your dreams
7) No door is closed;
8) Invest in yourself;
9) Use social media strategically (LinkedIn & Twitter).

Background infoYentyl Williams, a dual national of the UK and Trinidad and Tobago, is Director of the ACP Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN) and PhD Candidate at the Law department of the University of Bristol on The EU and Innovation in International Trade – A case study of the Intellectual Property (IP) provisions on Geographical Indications (GI) in the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)‘.

Yentyl has several years of work experience on EU relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, in the public (European Commission, CTA, European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)) and private sector (consulting), as well as in academia (Ghent University; PhD at Bristol University). In 2015, Yentyl was appointed as the youngest Expert to the EESC for the Green Paper on ‘The Future of the EU’s relations with the ACP group and the successor to the Cotonou Partnership Agreement’. She has been researching the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements since 2011 and has numerous publications on the topic.

In December 2014, Yentyl founded ACP YPN to advocate that the EU and ACP countries utilise Article 26 of the legally binding Cotonou Partnership Agreement on ‘youth issues’. She has pioneered the inclusion of ACP youth in several dialogues, notably with the African Union, the Commonwealth, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Youth Forum and several UN agencies. She pioneered the establishment of the Youth Forum of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly; attained a position as member for the ACP YPN as the only young professionals network on the EU-Cariforum Consultative Committee (at the EESC) and secured ACP YPN’s place as member of the UN Major Group on Children and Youth.

Yentyl has been awarded a Commonwealth Champion for advancing the values of inclusion; recognised as an Ambassador for Diversity by the European Parliament and featured by the European Commission as one of three youth driving change for more inclusive societies for International Youth Day 2016. Yentyl is a graduate of King’s College London, Sciences Po Paris and post-graduate of the College of Europe, Bruges. She has researched, published and travelled widely in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, and also in Asia and South America.

Get in touch with Yentyl via LinkedIn  & see tweets here

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ACP-YPN at the World Youth Forum, Egypt

“In this new era, the best investment is investment in youths” – Mrs. Rosemary Mbazizi, Minister of Youth of the Republic of Rwanda.

On November 3-6, 2018, Fon Brunstead – ACP YPN’s Policy Expert, attended the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh – Egypt, one of the world’s greatest youth events uniting 5000 young leaders across the world.

The World Youth Forum provided an opportunity to further the discourse on youth inclusiveness in contributing to world peace and prosperity; a subject matter which is pertinent to the objectives of the ACP-YPN. The underlying element of the event pertained to the idea that if inclusive policies are in place, the capacity of young people will be enhanced, leading to an acceleration in development. Panels and discussions were thus essentially centered on strategies for harnessing youth power in spurring economic development and fostering peaceful and tolerant societies.

On the peace agenda, the importance of a comprehensive and sectorial approach was recognized. While the comprehensive approach highlighted the need for a multiple stakeholders’ engagement (government, civil society and media), the sectorial approach sustains the idea that peace needs to be addressed with consideration to specific continental, regional, national and local dynamics. It was agreed that dialogue, participation and empathy remain very important variables in the fight against discrimination and violent extremism; however, they need to be deliberately formulated and integrated into policy frameworks. In this regard, national governments were encouraged to sustain peace building efforts through policies that enable political participation and promote parleys with reference to the Rwandan example of a successful post-genocide reconstruction. The role of women and youths was particularly considered; stressing the importance for them to feel a sense of belonging in peace processes and to participate in peace education and inclusive activities such as sports. In the words of Mrs. Rosemary Mbazizi, “there can be no peace in the world without the inclusive participation of the world”

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Inequality regarding gender and opportunities was considered as a major challenge in addressing the poverty conundrum. The need to narrow the gender gap in the labor market was raised. It was argued that entrepreneurship and technology offer a leeway for women’s empowerment because it enables them set their own pace and time. Notwithstanding, the main obstacle for women remains the lack of a financial ecosystem with a mechanism for monitoring micro-finance interventions and accompanying women in investments. A “woman to self” gender gap in technology was also identified. Evidence suggested that most women, especially in rural settings, think technology is difficult and considered it as a “boy toy” or a ‘thing’ for men, thus limiting the innovative and market capacities of their businesses. Recommendations addressed the need for women to tap into their inner abilities and bolster their self-esteem, while training programs should tally with women’s needs.

A particularly interesting session was titled: “Agenda 2063: the Africa we want”.  During this session, importance was placed on the role of youths and women in the accomplishment of Agenda 2063 – Africa’s strategic framework for socio-economic development. Volunteerism and networking among young people were highlighted as important channels for stimulating exchanges and building capacities, to emphasize on what was discussed during the AU – GIZ Consultative Youth Ideation Meeting held in Gaborone-Botswana in September 2018. In the domain of economic growth, evidence revealed that Africa lacked sufficient investment groups and platforms for crowdfunding.  Relevance was also attributed to migrant remittances going to Africa and to the need to create systemic mechanisms in managing and coordinating these revenues. It was assessed that significant successes had been recorded towards achieving African integration. Yet, prospects for an African free trade area remain challenged.

In summary, the World Youth Forum 18’ marks evidence to the fact that addressing the world’s urgent challenges is ultimately dependent on collective action. The forum revealed the power, potentials and responsibilities bestowed on young people to think, act, and lead. It falls in line with the role of the ACP YPN in stimulating discussions and exchanges among young professionals and in advocating for inclusive decision-making. Indeed, in this new era, the best investment is investment in youths.

By Fon Brunstead – Get in touch via LinkedIn and YouTube

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ACP YPN at ACP Private sector consultation, Barbados

On 1-2 November 2018, Yentyl Williams, Founder & Director of ACP YN represented the network at the ACP Secretariat and Business ACP’s private sector consultations on the Post Cotonou Negotiations in Bridgetown, Barbados. The consultations were formally opened by Viwanou Gnassounou, Assistant-SG of the ACP Secretariat (see video intervention here), Hon. Sandra Husbands, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados (see video intervention here), and H.E Daniela Tramacere, Ambassador of the EU to Barbados (see video intervention here). The consultations brought together 80 key stakeholders to with 4 specific objectives:

  1. To inform the ACP Private Sector on Post-Cotonou Negotiation process and issues;
  2. To develop a private sector position on the future relationship among the ACP states;
  3. To input and issue an ACP private sector position on Post-Cotonou negotiations;
  4. To officially launch the “ACP Business Forum”.

The plenary session that preceded the consultations included presentations on the following three pillars:

  1. Trade in goods and Services, by H.E Colin Connelly, Ambassador of Trinidad & Tobago to the EU, Chair of the Technical Negotiating team on this issue (see video intervention here).
  2. Investment and Finance, by H.E Haymandoyal Dillum, Ambassador of Mauritius to the EU, Chair of the ACP Sub-Committee on Investment and private sector (see video intervention here).
  3. Industrialisation, by Yvonne Chilese, Private Sector Expert, ACP Secretariat (see video intervention here and here).

During the plenary, Yentyl raised three issues:

  • ACP YPN has worked effectively with the institutions to establish the Youth Forums of the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and moreover, has been involved in other consultations processes such as the ACP Non-State Actors consultations (Nov. 2017). To what extent can we be assured that these advances in terms of youth participation and representation would be guaranteed in the post-Cotonou setting?
  • How will ACP Youth Entrepreneurship programmes be integrated within the post-Cotonou framework both at the the joint EU-ACP level and at the level of the ACP Secretariat and member states? ACP Youth have continually called for youth entrepreneurship programmes, including intra-ACP exchanges (see previous declarations).
  • How will private sector be harnessed to boost the participation and representation of ACP youth with regards to (i)  scholarships to pursue advanced masters at the College of Europe, to overcome the ACP exceptionalism that currently exists in EU external relations; (ii) internship opportunities, including at the ACP Secretariat, and (iii) advocacy at key events such as the annual European Development Days (where ACP YPN annually takes delegations of ACP Youth – see here).

The sessions were divided into the three aforementioned pillar areas and Yentyl was appointed rapporteur on pillar 3 – Industrialisation. For further information from the ACP Secretariat on the consultation see here (EN) and here (FR).

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