Published on 08/09/18

UGA-Tifton hosts young Mandela Washington Fellow from Democratic Republic of Congo

By Clint Thompson

Auxence Muhigwa Akonkwa, a Fellow from the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa, will visit the University of Georgia Tifton campus through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program.

While at UGA-Tifton, Akonkwa will participate in UGA Professor Greg Fonsah’s banana research; study the complete fresh-food market value chain, including fruits, vegetables and soybeans; attend research and UGA Cooperative Extension field days and lectures; collect production, marketing and postharvest data; and learn to develop business plans and economic analyses.

Akonkwa will also audit Fonsah’s “Agricultural Selling” class and give a presentation on his experience in Georgia to faculty and students at the end of the fellowship.

The fellowship began on Aug. 6 and will conclude on Sept. 14.

“I am extremely excited to be part of this distinguished Mandela Washington Fellowship program for Young African Leaders. I am equally happy that the University of Georgia and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), in particular, have been recognized as one of the leading land- and sea-grant universities capable of providing the necessary expertise needed by these future African leaders,” Fonsah said.

Launched in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program fosters closer relations and empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training and networking opportunities.

“The Mandela Washington Fellows are carefully selected through a rigorous vetting process based on their exceptional leadership qualities and look to university faculty for guidance and mentoring,” said Amrit Bart, assistant dean and director for the CAES Office of Global Programs. “Dr. Fonsah demonstrates the strong role our college plays in nurturing future global leaders in Africa and around the world.”

Selected from a pool of more than 37,000 applicants, this year’s 700 highly accomplished Fellows are leaders in public service, business, civil society, education, agriculture and other fields. These young leaders, between the ages of 25 and 35, play a role in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa.

The 2018 Fellows participated in academic and leadership institutes at 28 campuses across the U.S. through the end of July. Akonkwa is one of 100 Fellows chosen to remain in the U.S. to take part in professional development experiences. 

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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