In a recent meeting with 31 Young Professionals at the African Development Bank, President Akinwumi Adesina said the programme was an important pipeline of skills for the Bank. “I want to see younger talent so that we can tap into your creativity, commitment and drive,” he said.
Established in 2007, the three-year Young Professionals programme enables highly-skilled, early career university graduates to gain invaluable practical experience in international development while working at varying levels in Bank operations. Dubbed YPs for short, participants spend a minimum of two years at the Bank on rotation in departments that align with their skills and interests.
In the third year, the YPs either transition into full-time positions at the Bank, engage in a third rotation in a division of their choice, or transition out of the programme. To date, 70% of YPs have remained in some capacity at the Bank after their rotations, though the goal is to retain up to 90%.
Encouraging the YPs to take risks during their two- to three-year stint, President Adesina advised that “when you are early in your careers, this is the time to make the boldest decisions.
“History is written in bold ink, but only for those who make bold decisions.”
The 2015 cohort of Young Professionals is perhaps the most diverse the Bank has seen yet, representing countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America. While 20 YPs are citizens of the Bank’s regional member countries, 11 represent non-regional countries outside the African continent. Women are in the majority as 58% of the cohort. President Adesina expressed delight at the diversity of expertise and representation of women.
In a presentation highlighting the achievements of the 2015 cohort, Kolawole Dairo explained that YPs have been at the forefront of co-managing projects across the Bank’s five priority areas – the High 5s – supporting the implementation of the new Development and Business Delivery Model; drafting High 5 strategies; policy formulation and research, amongst other activities and achievements.
During an open discussion, the YPs queried President Adesina on how the Bank intends to accelerate Africa’s development through the High 5s, to which he responded, “We must deal with structural issues” such as infrastructure and “place people at the heart of what we do.” He also stressed the importance of investing in agriculture for Africa’s transformation because “Feed Africa[the Bank’s second priority area] is where the rubber meets the road.”
President Adesina said that the Bank’s focus on accelerated delivery is intended to move from managing poverty to stimulating inclusive growth in Africa while assisting countries to better manage financial and natural resources.
In addressing the challenge of resource mobilization, the President said “the African Development Bank cannot do it alone. We need partnerships, partnerships, partnerships” with trust funds and co-financing identified as important pillars of those partnerships.
President Adesina shared the Bank’s commitment to hosting the first of its kind African Investment Forum (AIF) in the latter part of 2018, and encouraged YPs to assist in preparatory work already underway. Likening AIF to a kind of “investment speed dating” the President explained that the Forum would not be a talk shop, but rather a transactional forum intended to de-risk investments in Africa.
YPs were also encouraged by President Adesina to assist in planning and executing a youth-centered event, which will début at the Bank’s forthcoming Annual Meeting in Busan, Korea, in May 2018.
During its decade-long existence, the Young Professionals programme has grown in popularity and competition is stiff. The 2015 process alone saw 9,000 applicants vying for the coveted positions. The recruitment process for the 2018 programme is well underway, with the cohort expected to be in their assignments next February.