The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) – Zambia

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was formed with great inspiration of the President’s Forum with Young African Leaders, hosted by the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama at the White house in August 2010. After the Presidents forum in the USA, the US Embassy in Lusaka-Zambia facilitated a dialogue of young Zambians at the American Center at which the video of the president’s forum was aired and dialogue ensued among young people as to the next course of action.

Paul Mundia Hakoola YALI

The young people were particularly inspired by President Obama’s remarks that “This is a new moment of great promise. Only this time, we’ve learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa’s future… It will be the young people brimming with talent and energy and hope who can claim the future that so many in previous generations never realized.” With such great inspiration and as a follow-up to the US Embassy-facilitated dialogue, enthusiastic and ecstatic young people from all walks of life brimming with so much energy and vigor continued to gather at the American center and hosted a series of meetings which culminated into the formation of an organization with the acronym, YALI.

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was consequently registered and incorporated on 6th January 2011, as a company limited by guarantee under the laws of the Republic of Zambia. YALI is a non-partisan and non-profit making coalition of young leaders whose mission is to engage, support, and empower young people to effectively participate in democratic processes and decision-making, promote good governance, principled leadership and human rights. Our vision is “a Zambia anchored on a vibrant generation of young leaders who effectively contribute to good democratic governance and promote change, justice, peace and economic development.”

The Initiative is governed by the Articles of Association which provides for an elected Executive Board of five office bearers headed by the President. The YALI Executive Board establishes and overseas operations of the Secretariat. The YALI Secretariat comprises the President, two Program Managers; one in charge of Democracy and Governance and the other for Human Rights and Advocacy. The Accounts Assistant and two other supporting staff help to run the day-to-day activities of the organization. The Secretariat reports to the Advisory Council and the general membership at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). The Secretariat for the organization is located at Plot No. 5D Chilimbulu Road in Libala Township, Lusaka Zambia.

Since its establishment, The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has lived-up to the billing by ensuring that a platform is created for young people to participate in democratic processes. Through a series of activities, YALI has positioned itself as an umbrella of youth organisations in Zambia by bringing together several young leaders from different sectors of society and so many others to promote civic education, monitor elections and debate among the young people of Zambia with the support of the Political and Economic Affairs Section of the US Embassy. YALI has also enlisted young people’s engagement with leaders at the local level in local government, the legislature through Members of Parliament, the executive through cabinet ministers and the general leadership of the country through high ranking government officials and opposition leaders.

In the region, YALI has with the support of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy, engaged and collaborated via DVC and face book with young people from different civil society organisations in Malawi and Swaziland. In the same vein, YALI has also collaborated with CSOs and young leaders from Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Zanzibar on elections monitoring and youth engagement in democratic processes with the support of a Dutch foundation called Hivos International.

With this rich background, YALI’s membership has boomed with the establishment of 87 leadership development clubs across the country in high schools, universities, colleges, higher learning institutions and now boasts of over 8875 members with several young professionals from civil society, government and the private sector. YALI has attracted support of several international organizations including the U.S. Department of State through the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka Zambia. YALI has also partnered with the USAID and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) – on the Zambia’s youth leadership development and mentorship programs, and the youth engagement in the constitutional reform processes project.

The organisation has also received support from the United Nations Development Program, UNDP through its 2009-2012 Elections Project Cycle with ECZ to conduct non-violent campaigns during Zambia’s 2011 tripartite elections with young people from all political parties in Zambia. YALI has also partnered with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Irish Embassy and the Department for International Development (DFID) to enable the organisation to conduct its governance activities and promote the UNITE Campaign to end violence against women and girls. YALI also collaborates with the UNESCO Youth Forum and shared its experiences at the 2011 conference hosted in Paris, France. The YALI has also received support from the Dutch foundation called Hivos in implementing its SCREAM for human rights and democracy project. Additionally, Hivos has provided support to YALI to create a network with young people in Kenya and East Africa to share experiences of the Zambian youth in elections as well assist in monitoring of the 2013 Kenyan elections.

YALI stands out as an organisation that is an outspoken advocate for youth democratic engagement and non-violent action in promoting peace and justice for all human beings. YALI is a team player and collaborates well with several partners at home and abroad in the Southern and East African region as well as in the Diaspora.

YALI is an advocate in the area of youth democratic engagement, non-violent action and active youth participation in decision-making. To this end, YALI has positioned itself on mission of providing skills and information to more youth that will better help them in civic engagement and improve their economic situation thereby reducing their vulnerability and ultimately improving the governance of the country. YALI projects have thus been designed to equip youth with information, knowledge and skills enabling young people to think critically, participate effectively in the democratic process including in leadership roles, understand challenges to good governance such as corruption, and learn entrepreneurship skills with information, knowledge and skills enabling young people to think critically, participate effectively in the democratic process including in leadership roles, understand challenges to good governance such as corruption, and learn entrepreneurship skills

YALI supports human rights for all human beings. YALI advocates enshrinement of the Bill of Rights in all Constitution of Zambia. The Bill of Rights must provide for political, social, economical and cultural rights that must be justifiable to oblige member States to make clear efforts to meet these basic needs. This will also act as act as a criterion for government to priorities development. This will further ensure accountability and transparency by African governments in its preparation of National Budgets and equitable distribution of resources to key areas such as education
YALI National Human Rights Legal Support Center
YALI has established the YALI national human rights centre whose principle aim of the Center shall include uncovering, documenting and collating human rights violations, subject the violations to public scrutiny through different media and disseminate information on human rights abuses. The Center shall further work to demand and press for those responsible for violations to be accountable by facilitating representation of victims of human rights violations in their fight for justice and redress. The YALI National Human Rights Legal Support Center will uphold the fundamental principle of universal human rights which place all human beings as equal in dignity and rights, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other status and shall be committed to realization of international human rights conventions and their domestication in Zambia.
Democracy and Governance
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) supports programs that are meant to enhance and engage young people in democratic governance and believes that a sustainable democracy requires citizens who demand democracy. The movement, a non-partisan network, aims at working with national leaders, political parties; public and private institutions to ensure young people are effectively empowered to play roles in Africa’s governance systems.
YALI through its mentorship program on democracy and good governance is reaching to young people in high schools, colleges, Universities, faith based organizations, political parties, markets, and civil society to change this trend and claim a bright future for the youth generation.
Constitution-Making Project
YALI has developed a program that seeks to engage youth in Zambia’s constitution-making process and ensure that young people contribute to the making of a constitution that can stand the test of time. YALI has released a 10 point master plan to as a way of concluding and resolving the impasse that has surrounded the constitutional reform process.
Policy engagement
YALI believes in policy engagement to ensure that they right policies are put in place as a way of mitigating the various challenges that young people and other marginalized groups are facing, YALI believes that good policies can effectively contribute to national development if properly implemented and monitored by stakeholders.
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) believes that education is the surest bet to get all segments of society involved in and benefiting from economic growth and transformation in African Countries. YALI is using education as a tool to prepare the local youth to take their place in their respective societies and not necessarily for life outside of Africa. YALI continues to develop different approaches to ensure that its mission to contribute towards increasing the levels of literacy on various issues in Africa achieves intended goals. YALI has developed a series of modules that will help young people grasp and inculcate certain values and principles, some key topics covered include; youth leadership, entrepreneurship, governance/ anti corruption and human rights and democracy.
Entrepreneurship Mentorship Program
YALI program targets youth from high schools, colleges and universities to impart basic information on entrepreneurship as a way of preparing the youth for self-sustenance after completion of their formal education. YALI also provides a platform for youth people to meet their elected representatives, government officials and other stakeholders in town hall meetings as a way dialogue in order to have some of the problems solved and fostering towards solution solving.
Youth Leadership
The majority of African population is built up by young people where over 60% of the continents population is made up of young people that are below the age of 30, despite being in the majority young people continue to be a marginalized group across Africa where their voices and participation in national developmental activities is very limited, currently Parliament is Zambia has less than 3% youth representation in parliament. YALI wants to build a carder of responsible young people that will take up the mantle of leadership in government, private sector and also in civil society that will ensure that youth issues are addressed with youthful solutions.
YALI has lined up a series of programs to achieve this such as professional training in partnership with its partners such Meridian International Centre, colleges and universities locally and internationally. YALI’s membership has boomed with the establishment of 87 leadership development clubs across the country in high schools, universities, colleges, higher learning institutions and now boasts of over 8993 members with several young professionals from civil society, government and the private sector.

Mundia Paul Hakoola currently is the Co – founder and Executive Board Secretary for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in Zambia. He is also serves as a US Embassy Zambia Youth Ambassador, Board Secretary of the Zambia United States Alumni Association and the coordinator of the International Association of Students in Economics and Management (AIESEC) in Zambia.

In 2008 Mr. Hakoola saved as of the Secretary General of the National Youth Anti – Corruption Movement (NYACM). NYACM is a youth led civil society organization with an exclusive focus on governance issues such as anti – corruption and promoting good democratic governance. In 2009 Mr. Hakoola was one of the pioneers of a civil society coalition called Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA), MeTA is DIFD funded pilot multi-stakeholder alliance working to improve access and affordability of medicines for the one-third of the world’s population unable to access essential medicines due to high cost or local unavailability and has its presence in Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Peru, the Philippines and Zambia.