The Ibrahim Leadership Fellows are a cohort of dynamic African leaders from a wide range of cultural backgrounds with diverse professional expertise. Through their work, they are contributing to the transformation of the African continent. Throughout January we will be spotlighting some of their stories.
What motivated you to undertake the Ibrahim Leadership Fellowship?
I was eager to make a change. I was working in an organisation that had wonderful learning opportunities, but it was relatively flat in terms of one’s ability to advance into a senior leadership role. I felt that the Fellowship would give me much more exposure to a wider network and more opportunities for both career and personal growth.
How has your Fellowship experience shaped your career?
The Fellowship helped put me in front of people – all types of leaders from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to a president to a grass roots activist. I spent a lot of time observing how people behaved and engaged in leadership. Observing a wide range of leaders and organisations across the world gave me new ideas for how I could best use my skills and talent. This pushed me to get further involved in the arts and creative sector.
In your opinion, what is Africa’s biggest development challenge?
Before we can tackle our big development challenges – youth unemployment, infrastructure development, food security, etc. – we have to build a stronger sense of unity as Africans. During my Fellowship at AfDB, I came to appreciate more than I had before why regional integration is critical for Africa.
Africa is halfway through the First Ten-year Implementation Plan (2014-2023) of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, what is your vision for the continent’s future?
I envision a continent where there is integration amongst countries and ease of travel. I hope to drive from Lagos to Dakar one day or hop on direct flights anywhere on the continent and be able to enter on a single African passport. I also envision a peaceful, prosperous and thriving continent where people – particularly young people – have access to the best educational and career opportunities in the world.
Who is your favourite African icon and why?
One of my favourites is the late Cabo Verdean singer, Cesária Évora. I never met her but admired her from afar. She’s a great example of how age has no limits. Her music was so beautiful, and she had a thriving career well into her older age. She was also a mentor and paved the way for a younger generation of musicians in Cabo Verde.