Community Development

Cultivating Powerful Voices for Change Through Impact West Africa

December 1, 2023  • Aspen Global Innovators Group & Niyel

Africa boasts the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population, burgeoning cities, and innovative strides in diverse sectors ranging from fintech to clean energy. With its population anticipated to nearly double to 2.5 billion people by 2050, the continent stands as a realm of abundant opportunities for substantial and inclusive growth. This growth has the potential to leverage Africa’s rich natural resources and vast human potential, contributing not only to the prosperity of the continent but also making a global impact.

In light of this, the Aspen Institute’s Global Innovators Group and African-led advocacy firm Niyel have created a bold new fellowship, Impact West Africa, to foster leadership amongst West African voices. Through the fellowship, 10 changemakers and their organizations who are already innovating in their communities will build skills across written and spoken storytelling, media relations, and social media to extend the reach of their initiatives and build momentum for change. These leaders will forge new cross-border alliances to tackle challenges like health, women’s empowerment, education, and more that affect close to half a billion people across the region’s 17 countries at both a larger regional scale and locally. Their actions will also ripple out, creating global impact far past their communities.

West Africa’s critical role in the continent’s narrative

West Africa has long held a crucial role in shaping the African continent’s narrative. However, the region is not without its challenges. Economic disparities, political instability, healthcare inequalities, and environmental threats cast shadows across the region. But within these challenges lies the scope for transformative change. West African change creators have been at the forefront in inspiring action to transform the region and tackle predominant issues in health, water and sanitation, agriculture, climate change, women’s empowerment, nutrition, and gender equality among others. 

The need to invest in local experts in global health and development in Africa is more urgent than ever.  Across the continent, movement leaders are daring to dream and revolutionize current systems like local manufacturing of health products including vaccines, telemedicine, and sustainable agricultural development.

By equipping and guiding change creators to work together and learn from each other, Impact West Africa’s goal is to create an equitable, sustainable future for the region. The importance of West Africa resides in its boundless potential, teeming with vibrant voices ready to be heard. Recognizing this potential is essential to leading the path of impactful actions towards meaningful change.

A fellowship with world-class advocacy and media training

Ultimately, the Impact West Africa Fellowship seeks to provide world-class advocacy and media training and raise Fellows’ visibility in regional and international media, so that their expertise in West African development priorities will be recognized and regularly sought by media and decision-making bodies.

This program underscores the Aspen Global Innovators Group’s commitment to amplifying the voices, expertise, and solutions of locally rooted global health and development experts. As we stand on the threshold of a new era for testing, replicating, and scaling equitable health solutions, these programs reaffirm the Aspen Global Innovator Group’s dedication to fostering a more diverse, inclusive, and impactful global health landscape.

The inaugural Impact West Africa fellowship launched in Senegal in fall 2023, opening an exciting and unique new avenue to develop a new generation of powerful development leaders to advance Africa’s own development priorities.

Meet the 2023 Impact West Africa Fellows

Abdul-Rahman Edward Koroma, Country Director at Centre for Social Economic Empowerment and Development (Sierra Leone)

Aly Faye, Communication Manager at Ipar (Senegal)

Boubacar Zakou Zeinabou, Activist, Feminist (Niger)

Christian Mampuya, Country Director at KYNAROU (Burkina Faso)

Donald Singue Tanko, Climate and Disaster Risk Finance Coordinator of the African Disaster Risk Financing Program, African Development Bank (Côte d’Ivoire)

Etienne Bilgo, Research Fellow at IRSS/Centre Muraz (Burkina Faso)

Fatou Ndow, Program Coordinator at Civil Society Institute for Health (Senegal)

Gloria Agyare, Programmes Officer at Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (Ghana)

Koumba Anouma, Program Director at Investisseurs & Partenaires (Cote d’Ivoire)

Mojirayo Ogunlana Oluwatoyin, Digital and Gender Rights Lawyer and Executive Director at DiGiCiViC Initiative (Nigeria)

A collage of 10 smiling West Africans, both men and women, who received the fellowship. Around their headshots is a background and border of a dark blue to light blue gradient. Below the images is white text that reads "Impact West Africa: Empowering West African changemakers to drive meaningful and sustainable change in their communities and beyond."