Panel Explores Engaging Africa’s Youth in African Union


L-R: Honorable George Monyemangene, South African Consulate General in New York; Donna Katzin, executive director of Shared Interest; and Amini Kajunju, AAI President and CEO.

On the heels of the African Union Summit in late-May, a panel of top diplomats and advocates for Africa challenged young people in the Diaspora on June 20 to identify ways to engage with the African Union at Applause Africa magazine’s panel discussion.

AAI President and CEO Amini Kajunju participated in the panel discussion in New York City, where she gave insight into the deliberations at the summit as it relates to African youth. The AAI delegation engaged in Summit deliberations as an institutional partner and marked the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Union (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union, on Africa Day, May 25.

Kajunju said the AU’s Africa Day was a day of celebration that focused on the future, but noted that African young professionals were noticeably absent from the summit deliberations. “People in my age group were not there,” said Kajunju. “Many leaders are not ready to let go and that needs to change.”

Other panelists contributing to the spirited discussion included Honorable George Monyemangene South African Consulate General in New York; Dr Josephine Ojiambo Former Kenya Ambassador/Chief for External Relations at the United Nations Population Fund; Dr. Robert F. Van Lierop, UN Ambassador and Adviser to the African Union; Adebola Willams Founder and Director of The Future Project Nigeria/Future Awards; Edward Bergman, Executive Director of the Africa Travel Association; Yetunde A. Odugbesan-Omede CEO and Founder, Yetunde Global Consulting LLC; and Donna Katzin Executive Director of Shared Interest.


Panelists Yetunde A. Odugbesan-Omede CEO and Founder, Yetunde Global Consulting LLC and Dr. Robert F. Van Lierop, UN Ambassador and Adviser to the African Union

Mariama C. Keita, a Fellow at UNAIDS, asked panelists to offer best practices from their institutional perspective on how the Diaspora can engage the African Union.

Kajunju shared AAI’s longstanding mission in providing advanced educational opportunities and professional development training to Africans who, in turn, returned to their home country to contribute to the national development. She announced the launch of the Annual Career Expo to connect the African Diaspora in the U.S. with an institution on the continent or with an Africa-focused organization in the U.S.


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