How AfDB is building future leaders through their Young Professionals Program

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina poses for a photo with young people during the Africa Youth Entrepreneurship Forum. Photo by: AfDB

The African Development Bank continues to strategically invest in the development of its future leaders, enabling the organization to remain a key player in the development of the continent and deliver upon its promises to the people of Africa. The Young Professionals Program is one initiative that the bank invests in with the aim of bringing on and nurturing promising young leaders. The program aims to attract highly qualified and motivated young professionals who are committed to the development of Africa and provide them with a balance of broad and deep experiences in the bank’s priority areas of operation for a three-year term.

Sponsored by David Ssegawa, the director of corporate human resources, the now decade-long program will this year take a refreshed approach to better align with the bank’s new people strategy and offer enriched learning and growth interventions. From day one, the program offers a highly conducive environment for young professionals and has a number of structured support interventions, including coaching, grooming, mentorship and counseling.

AfDB expects to recruit 30 individuals for the program during the last quarter of 2017, who will then be onboarded at the beginning of 2018. Ousseynou Nakoulima, who is now the director for renewable energy and energy efficiency, was among the very first cohort of the Young Professionals Program. “The structure of the program was different then and involved just two or three rotations. I am pleased to see that the program today provides even deeper and broader immersion in the bank’s end-to-end operations,” says Nakoulima. Coming from an engineering background, Nakoulima gained experience working on infrastructure in West Central Africa and in the private sector through the YPP. He took a break from AfDB to work in the commercial banking sector and later for the Green Climate Fund in South Korea before returning to the organization to take up his current leadership role.

Nakoulima is now excited to become a mentor on the program that helped shape the leader he is today. His advice, for those who will be successful in getting into the YPP, is to see the bank as a “dispensary of knowledge” and take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the institution and its vision, mission, values and strategy from the senior and more experienced staff there. Nakoulima fondly recalls that as a young professional, his colleagues were always eager to share experiences and knowledge — something he says is core to the African culture.

Applications are still being accepted for the 2018 YPP cohort. Successful candidates must meet a number of criteria — for example, they must be a citizen of a regional or non-regional AfDB member country and be of age 32 years or younger as of December 31, 2017. Additionally, successful candidates must be passionate about development issues in Africa, demonstrate potential for leadership and possess strong entrepreneurial, analytical and digital skills. The program aims to attract highly qualified and experienced professionals; a master’s degree in any discipline related to the business of the bank is therefore a minimum requirement, as is hands-on experience. Candidates who have worked on the bank’s strategic priority areas (the high 5s) — which involves knowledge of different sectors such as power and energy, agriculture and social development, industrialization and trade development, regional integration and generally the improvement of lives — will be preferred, says Nyawira Ndambuki, manager for training and development. Prior experience garnered in developing markets will be an added advantage.

AfDB currently delivers development programs in 54 countries across Africa and successful candidates will initially be based at the bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, with the possibility of placement in other countries during the three-year program. Proficiency in one of the two bank’s official languages — French and English — is a must.

The deadline for applications to the Young Professional Program is September 15, and successful candidates should be ready to take up their position at the beginning of  2018. If you are interested in applying, find out more about the process here.

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