Sani Ayouba displaying his final certificate signed by President Obama

Sani Ayouba displaying his final certificate signed by President Obama

Sani Ayouba Abdou is Founder and Executive Director of the Young Volunteers for the Environment (JVE), a Niger based NGO that works for the protection and preservation of the environment by conducting climate advocacy and promoting clean energy. He travels frequently to rural areas in Niger to inform the public of environmental and sustainable development issues facing their community. Ayouba holds a master’s degree in Project Management. After completing the Washington Fellowship, he plans to increase youth involvement in the field of environment and encourage youth employment in the green economy. YouthHub Africa got him to share his experience on the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African leaders formerly called the YALI fellowship.


Q: Tell us about your background, discipline and your socialization process.

A: I have a Masters in Project Management and a degree in communication. I attended several training in capacity building on various topics. I started my commitment, are over ten years ago in the Nigerien Scout Movement. I travel within the country and outside the Niger to bring the voice of youth and call the youth to get involved on issues of sustainable development.

Q: What do you think made your application a strong one and how much time and commitment did you put into it?

A: The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African leaders is above all a program of recognition of the commitment and leadership of young people who make efforts in their communities through the participation of young people. I think it is primarily a question of luck because many of us have to be preselected then I especially valued my actions at national level with the young people, the women in urban and rural areas. And finally my academic, professional and my interests at the international level initiatives concerning youth issues have attracted the attention of the jury in my opinion.


YALI banner newestQ: How were you informed that you were selected and what was your reaction on hearing the news?

A: First it had the notification by email for the pre selection which was to pass an interview in English, and after that I received a final notification by email and telephone that I had been retained. It was a very emotional and personal satisfaction.

Sani Ayouba graduating from the UC-Berkeley School of Public Policy

Sani Ayouba graduating from the UC-Berkeley School of Public Policy

Q: How has the six weeks fellowship changed you/your life?

A: These six weeks have been very intense in terms of learning, training, discovery, exchange and networking. I strengthened my ability, expanded my network and share my experiences. I know that these six weeks are crucial to my future choices and guide my stance and commitment as a young leader.

Q: What is the biggest take home from this fellowship and how would you applied it to what you do?

A: I was at the University of California in Berkeley, where I learned the analysis of public policies (civic leadership) within Goldman School of Public Policy. I think this is one of the great things I learned during this program and I was very marked. I would especially like to participate in my country to the analysis of public policies for youth and women. If we have texts and strategies for implementation, the next step will be advocacy for ways to execute. In Africa, we gave little importance to public policy especially their implementation. I am convinced that we will change this continent, if we based our public policy in our context and taking into account our realities and give us the means to update and to implement.


Q: Do you have any plans to share some of the things you have learnt during the fellowship with your contemporaries back at home in some structured form and what does the fellowship expect of you as well?

A: We were inspired before going to USA and become more inspired after the fellowship. We expect share the maximum of knowledge and experiences with our peers and our networks.  Several sessions of restitution will be organized with the assistance of the Embassy of the United States. We plan to organize a caravan within the country on the YALI program. With my fellow we are willing to be mentors the next generation of YALI in order to have more young Nigeriens at the next program.

Sani Ayouba (far left) takes part in voluntary activities as part of the YALI fellowship

Sani Ayouba (far left) takes part in voluntary activities as part of the YALI fellowship


Q: What are your next steps?

A:On my personal level, is to continue my capacity building in relation to the YALI Alumni Network program and affirm my leadership in all that I do. At my organization level and my social commitments to be more useful, better manage my team with more vision, rigor and discipline while helping others to assert their potential benefit.

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Rotimi Olawale, co-founder of is a youth development expert. For more than six years he has been involved in leading youth advocacy efforts mainly around the Millennium Development Goals. In 2006, he represented Nigeria as a youth ambassador at the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Summit held at the UN Headquarters in New York. Rotimi has held several global leadership positions including; member, UNFPA Global Youth Advisory Panel for 2 years; member, African Youth Panel. Rotimi is currently involved in shaping local, national and global policies to benefit youth and also leverage opportunities for young people. He was listed by the Nigerian government as one of 15 Nigerian youth on the world stage in 2008.