Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas in a group photograph with graduates of CDD-Ghana's WAYLead programme

The Center for Democratic Development, Ghana (CDD-Ghana), has graduated the first 16 cohorts under its West Africa Youth Leaders Fellowship (WAYLead) programme.

The programme, jointly organized by CDD-Ghana and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), engaged the youth within the West African sub-region, by providing them with the requisite learning experiences, which would not only train participants but ignite their passion to be catalysts of change in their respective countries.

A total of 20 youth from across Anglophone West Africa – Ghana, The Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, over a period of 12 months, participated in the transformative leadership experience programme that combined knowledge acquisition, experience sharing, and fieldwork, which has provided them with unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge, skills, and exposure as change leaders.

Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the former Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), who was the guest of honour at the graduation ceremony, highlighted some key challenges the African continent is facing.

Dr Chambas urges CDD-Ghana's Fellowship cohorts to help tackle Africa’s challenges

He cited poverty and underdevelopment as some of the key challenges that the West Africa subregion is facing.

He said in spite of the tremendous rich natural resources that the African continent is endowed with, majority of the people still lived in poverty; saying there is endemic poverty in many parts of the continent.

He urged the CDD-Ghana WAYLead maiden graduands to accordingly, help tackle the continent’s challenges, should they become leaders, to improve the lives of the people.

Dr Chambas urges CDD-Ghana's Fellowship cohorts to help tackle Africa’s challenges

With regards to underdevelopment, Dr Chambas cited poor infrastructure and educational facilities; adding that the Covid-19 pandemic has tested the continent’s health infrastructure and put it in crisis.

He said how Africa is going to come out of this pandemic stronger is now the challenge.

“And as future leaders, you must make it a passionate desire to see how we turn things around and work to improve the lots of African people and harness the tremendous resources that we have,” he said.

Concerning population growth, Dr Chambas noted that population was often brought up as an issue, which needed to be analyzed scientifically and dispassionately because population could be a double-edged sword.

Dr Chambas said security challenges were rife in the sub-region and the Sahel; where there exists violent extremism and terrorism, and farmers-herders conflicts in many countries as a result of dwindling natural resources.

Dr Chambas urges CDD-Ghana's Fellowship cohorts to help tackle Africa’s challenges

He cited grazing lands and rivers, which have dried up, archaic grazing practices where herders are trekking thousands of kilometers in a very inefficient animal husbandry system.

Dr Kojo Asante, Director of WAYLead, told the graduating fellows that they had been equipped with the tools to be effective leaders, however, in their leadership journey, they would come across novel situations that would require them to follow someone’s lead, or get advice from trusted sources to inform their judgment.

“When those situations arise, always remember this: leadership is a never-ending journey of learning, unlearning, and relearning. Leaders who fail to learn, learn to fail,” he added.