Making a tangible impact
through innovation in Africa
Meet Angela Lusigi, UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana who shares details of the exciting and innovative initiatives she gets to lead and contribute to.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something that addressed the issues of poverty and inequality in the world, and I knew that leaders needed to be held accountable for them. I grew up in rural Kenya, watching the people around me struggling as hard as they could on an unlevel playing field, to provide for their families or lift themselves out of vulnerable situations.
This is what I love about UNDP; my personal values resonate so much with the mission and mandate of the organization. And throughout the two decades of my career, I have been fortunate to work in roles and on projects that have enabled me to address the issue of poverty in all its dimensions.
Career development, with the same mission
My journey with UNDP started back in 2003 with a leadership training programme. Fast-forward 17 years, with a five-year role at UNEP in between, and I now find myself working as The UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana. I have always maintained that, when it comes to a career path, only you know your skillset and what excites you, so it’s important to look for work opportunities that tick these boxes.
All of my moves within the UN, from IFAD and FAO in Rome in 2000 to UNDP in Nigeria as an Assistant Resident Representative, have all been about wanting to grow and looking for the next opportunity to do that. At the same time, I am always moving, towards a shared mandate — and this is made possible by the fact that all UN agencies share the same vision and values, collaborating to pursue a common mission, to accelerate sustainable development for the benefit of all.
For 8 years as a Strategic Advisor for UNDP Africa in New York, I was fortunate to work with young researchers across Africa as one of the organisers of the annual African Economic Conference — a platform for researchers and decision-makers to debate emerging issues. Now, I get to work as part of the UN family in Ghana, across the full spectrum of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, helping to not only shine a light on the reality of poverty but able to do something about it.
Building on the potential of young Africans to impact their communities
I am passionate about youth empowerment, gender equality and leadership development. As a strong believer in the potential of African youth and women, one programme I am very happy to have coordinated in my previous role at UNDP Africa Headquarters is the African Young Women Leaders Fellowship Programme. The idea behind the programme is to recruit outstanding talent from across the continent and then place them into organizations where they can gain experience managing and innovating various projects. We also provide them with training and networking opportunities. I am happy that new cohorts are being recruited yearly.
Currently, in my new role as the UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, I lead a dynamic team that is working with the UN system to support the Government to deliver on its development priorities. We are working with communities and all partners to support Ghana’s efforts to eradicate poverty for all, protect the planet for future generations, and foster peace towards inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.
One of our flagship initiatives involves connecting young people to opportunities and resources by fostering innovation through Youth Innovation for SDGs and Waste Recovery Innovation Challenges. So far, 20 young innovators are transforming their space and creating jobs through our seed funding of about 500,000 USD and support provided to deepening their capabilities and networks.
The most important thing for me, in all the work I do within UNDP, is that it speaks to my passion for eradicating poverty. And I’ve had the opportunity to work towards that in numerous ways — whether it is mobilising resources, designing projects or leading teams to work alongside governments to define and implement strategies that leverage innovation and digital technologies. All of that dials back to our key purpose.