The story of Africa is changing. We have six of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world. Poverty is gradually declining as hunger drops. Enrolment in schools is increasing. Ghana has achieved the first MDG as more countries race to the finish line. The prevalence of infectious diseases particularly HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria has reduced in the last decade. Child mortality has dropped. The number of women in politics is increasing as advocacy for female empowerment heightens.
On the other hand, maternal mortality is a huge challenge. The scourge of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa is debilitating. Famine and hunger and East Africa kill mothers and children. The fragile stability in North Africa sequel to the Arab Springs threatens development efforts. The devastating effects of climate change are ravaging lands and lives through desert encroachment and floods in many parts of the continents. Reduction in development aids threatens continued progress on the continent.
These successes and challenges tell us something: In Africa, there is good news to share but we have lots of work to do to make the promising continent a truly prosperous and disease-free region. In line with this, we have four news bloggers who will report key development projects and initiatives in Africa, and proffer solutions to emerging challenges of Africans through their well-researched posts.
Here they are:
Foluso Ajani, Nigeria
Dr Foluso Ajani is a highly motivated young Nigeria medical doctor, youth activist and advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive rights, maternal and child health.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine & surgery from Obafemi Awolowo University where she finished in the top 5% of her class. She was a member of the Students Representative Body, served on the Constitution Review Committee and was the Editor in Chief of the Departmental Board and Co Chairperson of the Final Year Medical Students Seminar Programme.
Dr Ajani was a member of the Junior Chamber International, a worldwide federation of Young Leaders and Entrepreneurs where she served as the Health Awareness Chairperson and was awarded the Most Outstanding Project Coordinator. She was also the Vice President where she coordinated youth empowerment and entrepreneurship programmes on campuses.
She attended the JCI Nigerian Training Institute for Young Leaders and was awarded the Best Participant. She was part of the recently concluded Discover Youth Leaders Programme organised by the Common Wealth Africa Youth Centre. She is currently a partner at Brown Button Foundation; a NGO aimed at improving the sexual and reproductive health of women and reducing maternal mortality rates in Nigeria and was recently awarded a scholarship by the Women Deliver Organization to attend the upcoming global conference in Malaysia.
Lilly Mensah, Ghana
A very talented Ghanaian youth advocate and reporter with strong knowledge on the current situation at home for young people. She works tirelessly to make the voice of youth heard in the media in Ghana and is passionate about strengthening youth inclusion in society, particularly those with disabilities.
She is an active member of Curious Minds, avid reporter for Global Press Institute and volunteer for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa. She has attended several conferences and forum including the Mo Ibrahim Youth Forum on Education and Civic Participation.
Paul Okediji, Nigeria
Paul Okediji is a freelance writer, blogger and medical doctor. He is a four year veteran of using social media and both web and mobile technologies to present complex information in the simplest possible form, easily understandable by everyone. He derives joy in “creating” written pieces, blogging, writing articles, and designing graphics of all kinds.
Paul is also the co-founder of Writers’ Alliance, an organization that seeks to develop writing potentials in young people. The desire to search out and nurture young budding writers was jumpstarted in Sept, 2010 when over 50 youths were empowered with the knowledge and skills necessary to initiate and develop their writing careers.
In 2002, Paul won an Honorable Mention for a National Essay Competition co-hosted by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC). His essay also won first prize for the state category. He has been quoted in Expat-Advisory and Yahoo! Voices.
Mani Joseph Muya, Kenya
Mani, Joseph Muya is currently a student at United States International University, Senior Year Pursuing a B.A in International Relations, concentrating on Peace and conflict studies and a minor in Psychology.
Currently Serving as the Deputy Executive Director for YALDA based at USIU, AIESEC Alumni, Founder (Revived) Africa Peace Initiative Club in USIU. Mani has also had a strong desire to give back to the community since in High School, He participated in the Kabarak Sacho Mission Outreach Program in 2007, Worked as a Volunteer at Sherped’s International Ministries in Uganda in Dec 2010- Jan 2011, and also Volunteered to Serve the Community at Victorious Joy Children’s Home (A hands on experience) for a period of three months.
Apart from community service and other selfless initiatives, Mani is also passionate for a better Africa and as such has affiliations to major Organizations that have the similar objectives such as Global Changemakers, 7 Billion Actions among others. Also in an effort to champion the youth cause, Mani has been featured in various international media houses, such as VOA Swahili, UN Radio Swahili Unit, and Pan Africa Radio.