Creating Africa’s next generation of development experts: African Development Bank calls on young professionals to join its ranks

The African Development Bank has issued a call to young people who are interested in joining the continent’s premier finance institution.

The Bank has opened applications for its Young Professionals Program, which offers a unique opportunity to young people with a passion for development to participate in offering lasting solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges.

At a lunch held Wednesday at which the current batch of YPPs were invited to share their feedback, Senior Vice President Charles Boamah made it clear that he valued the input of the young professionals.

“We want to hear from you directly…We will factor all of your comments into the decisions we make,” he said.

Kolawole Olugboye, the YPP coordinator, said the recruitment process was designed to attract motivated, talented young professionals committed to making a difference on the African continent. It forms part of the Bank’s Talent Management plan on building a workforce of the future for the Bank. 

“The successful YPs will be largely based at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, but also have the opportunity to travel to the various country offices and projects across Africa. The program also enables candidates to move across a range of business units in the Bank to garner the skills to deliver on the job.”

Michel N’guessan, a water engineer and finance specialist, said the program compared favourably with that of other multilateral development institutions.

“The six-month rotation is the best structure…because it allows you to pick up deep knowledge of the Bank. I learned two important things. The first is: All the decision-makers are human beings. They can make mistakes but it’s more important to review your decisions. The second is: It always takes a collective effort to reach a certain goal.”

Frances Emembolu, a young lawyer, also enjoyed the wide range of experience she was exposed to.

“The design of the program is highly effective. It gives a young professional an opportunity to, within three years, garner experience from different sectors of the Bank. That enables you to become a well-rounded individual, with transferable skills for working within and outside and the Bank.”

Working at the Bank required excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to be a team player, she said.

Carefully selected training programs impart skills that young people in the YP program need to become development experts. The programs range from communication skills to project management, investment appraisal, leadership skills, as well as a flagship postgraduate diploma in development with a reputable university.

YPs are assigned mentors who lend their professional and personal experience to help the recruits navigate their careers.

The Bank’s last YPP recruitment exercise attracted over 7,000 applications from all over the world. The majority of the applicants were aged between 27 and 32 – the target audience – of which about 32% were women, who eventually formed 60% of the successful candidates.

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