Amidst the resounding echoes of youthful ideals and the fervent whispers of change, stands Ndieze Kelechi, the newly elected president of the Young Africans Network For Global Goals (YANGG).
With an unwavering commitment to advocacy, Ndieze’s trajectory from grassroots activism to the helm of this influential organisation is an inspiring narrative of ambition and purpose.
As CrispNG delves into his story, a symphony of hope and determination unfolds, painting a portrait of a visionary leader poised to sculpt the future landscape of Africa in line with YANGG’S mission which is geared towards the transformation of Africa in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals, business growth/entrepreneurship, and leadership development via youth empowerment and engagement.
Congratulations on your election. What motivated you to take on the role of President of YANGG?
It is said that there is no better service than service to humanity. Every day, I’m constantly motivated by the need to fix Nigeria and fix Africa, by the need for young people to take up the responsibility of creating the Africa of our dreams. African problems can best be solved by African people.
The need to make an impact, to weave this narrative into our own stories, to motivate other young professionals like myself to take on the responsibility of changing things, questioning the status quo, making an impact, and building the Africa we desire—that is the best motivation I have ever had.
In due time, the board of directors of YANGG nominated and elected me to be the chief servant to drive this great initiative, and I’m incredibly honored to do so.
You worked as YANGG’s West Africa Vice President formerly, what were the successes and challenges and how has the experience shaped you, especially leadership wise considering the fact that you now have more responsibilities as president?
I didn’t just start as that; I grew. I learned through the ropes as the aide to the president. I was appointed programmes and project manager, then the vice president. So, for me, it’s been an incredible journey of learning, working with passionate young Africans across the continent.
It’s been a scary journey, but an interesting one too. I’ve had to work with diverse teams. But what is life? What is leadership if we are unable to reinvent ourselves to always drive home the reason why we’ve been appointed to lead?
As vice president, we faced a lot of challenges, especially looking at the current state of Africa. Young people are more particular about their personal life, how they can fulfill their needs and wants, although there are still others passionate about the transformation of Africa.
I’ve learned that beyond all the crises and instability, it is possible to achieve the kind of transformation that we want. Africa’s problems can best be solved by Africans, and the earlier young people like me and you start making conscious deliberate efforts to drive this transformation, the better it is for us.
What specific goals do you have for advancing sustainable development within Africa during your tenure?
In my tenure as president, we aim to go all-in to go all-out. We need to be that organization with quality members who are enlightened about policies such as climate change, governance, youth development, politics, and more.
We aspire to enlighten members about their responsibilities beyond rights, focusing on building the African state. Beyond awareness, we aim to empower young Africans differently by providing developmental opportunities, equipping them with requisite skills, and offering avenues for self-expression.
We’ve initiated discussions with training institutions to provide skill-up opportunities, fostering soft skills for young Africans, even those in remote areas. This will enable them to contribute to the economy of their local communities, their states, nations, and the continent at large.
We believe that one of Africa’s problems lies in transforming the current demographic bulge into demographic dividends. Despite being blessed with a youthful population, this advantage is not reflected in African economies due to a significant portion of this population being unskilled, underskilled, and unable to fit into appropriate labor roles. YANGG aims to lead in advancing the skill set of young Africans.
We amplified our voices on global issues and engaged in several conversations. As part of our strategies, we collaborated with government agencies, NGOs, and professionals at different levels to examine issues affecting African people. We conducted a review of the resolutions from the African climate summit held in Kenya a few months ago.
We believe African youth should have a say in the treaties, agreements, and resolutions made by African leaders. The more we understand these resolutions, the better we can hold them accountable. Our organization sees itself as a network of young African leaders aiming to persuade, pursue, and ensure sanity in our governance and policies.
We take responsibility for ensuring these aspirations materialize. We are not merely about making statements; action is key. This understanding stems from the realization that we need a different mindset to tackle the problems we face.
As an SDG-focused organization, we aim to encourage the active participation of young individuals in governance. We believe governance should not be restricted to the elderly; it’s essential to shift from complaint to action.
We advocate for our members to engage in the political process and organizational structure, as these are effective avenues for initiating necessary changes. You can’t change a system if you’re not part of it, making it a crucial direction. Personally, I plan to enroll in specific campaigns.
Starting next year, we intend to voice popular demands to our head of state. We’ve observed a pattern where heads of make treaties and agreements, but implementation is lacking, such as the African Free Trade removal allowing Africans to trade across the continent. This issue has caused friction between Nigeria and South Africa and is treated with levity in some African countries.
We aim to create a movement urging African leaders to implement the agreements they’ve consented to. Next year, our focus will be advocating for critical issues to propel Africa forward.
Additionally, we seek to magnify opportunities within the organization. One challenge we face is that Africans aren’t familiar with each other. Africa’s diversity is our strength.
Therefore, we aim to establish exchange programs. For instance, a Nigerian member of our organization could have an opportunity to interact with someone from Botswana, fostering a borderless network that breaks down ethnic or political barriers.
How do you plan to engage and collaborate with various stakeholders, both within and outside Africa, to drive sustainable development initiatives?
One of our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for next year is strategic partnership, which is outlined in agenda four of our plan. We have previously engaged some stakeholders in conversations and established partnerships.
In the past, we partnered with the Senegalese government to drive health initiatives in Senegal and had a similar partnership in Zambia.
However, our aim for next year is to scale these partnerships to a higher level. Currently, we are in discussions with organizations to initiate United Nations model conversations for the implementation of these policies.
Furthermore, we’ve initiated collaborations with media agencies to disseminate the message of YANGG across borders.
Also, we are actively reaching out to NGOs similar to ours to collaborate, understanding that we are more effective as a team.
YANGG already has a partnership with the United Organization of International Human Rights Commission, which we leverage for various initiatives.
We are also engaged in partnerships within the United Nations framework, specifically through the UN Global Climate Committee, collaborating with over 1000 organizations beyond Africa to propagate our message.
We aim to organise more physical events next year. These partnerships will aid us in executing initiatives across different countries.
Again, we plan to introduce impact awards to recognize young Africans making significant contributions in various countries. Our focus is on achieving tangible results. We invite potential partners, personnel, NGOs, and individuals willing to support and drive this goal to join us.
Can you share your vision for incorporating innovation and technology to address sustainability challenges in Africa?
One of the working groups we will be incorporating next year focuses on technology and innovation.
We are assembling young professionals who are skilled or have an interest in technology and innovation related to climate, green jobs, youth development, and political restructuring.
These individuals will be tasked with generating tech-driven initiatives to develop more sustainable systems. Additionally, we are open to partnering with tech companies to achieve this goal. Our aim is to upskill over 1000 Africans in technology.
We are actively seeking partners, including Microsoft, Google, and other institutions, willing to collaborate with us on this initiative.
How do you intend to ensure inclusivity and representation of diverse voices in the decision-making processes of the group?
Inclusivity and representation of diverse voices are key principles of YANGG. Within the board, we have individuals representing various regions.
The current secretary of YANGG is an amazing professional from Botswana; our director of SDGs is from The Gambia; our director of organization is from Burundi. We also have national coordinators from different countries.
My goal for next year is to ensure a higher representation of women, while emphasizing competence as crucial. To promote diversity, we aim to include more quality women.
At YANGG, we prioritize viewing people as humans first. We organized a series called ‘She Leads,’ a virtual conversation dedicated to women advancing in various sectors of the economy and taking leadership roles.
Given the diverse cultures and economies across Africa, how do you plan to tailor sustainable development approaches to different regions?
We, at YANGG, acknowledge the diversity across different regions, each facing distinct issues. This diversity is reflected in the 17 goals of the SDGs.
We advise our members in various regions to identify local issues that align with the SDGs.
In Africa, unemployment, quality education, climate change, and youth empowerment are common issues transcending borders. Therefore, at the international level, we prioritize addressing these widespread African issues.
How do you plan to communicate the success of the group’s initiatives in promoting sustainability across the continent?
We are are partnering with media organisations to ensure that our progress, impact and challenges is seen by all at every point in time.
We are opening up our email community, we wish to share impact across borders, even as we leverage on social media platforms, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, as well as newspapers, blogs, television stations to talk about the things we are doing and how the African youth can be at the forefront of this transformation.
Tell us about the December 9 investiture?
December 9th marks our investiture—a two-hour program during which we will share the YANGG story and outline our future plans. The theme is “leading the emerging African generation”.
We strongly encourage anyone interested in African transformation to join us; it will be a virtual event, and preparations are underway.
This event serves as a wake-up call for all stakeholders to engage in the journey of African transformation. Solving African problems is best achieved by African people, with the youth at the forefront.
This investiture signifies a leadership transition phase for YANGG. We are excited about the exceptional individuals joining us; we’ve diligently reached out to young professionals from various countries. It’s an opportunity to showcase their talents globally and empower them to lead.