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Background and Program Overview

Despite making up more than half of the population in many countries, young people (ages 18-35) often find themselves marginalized from mainstream politics and decision making. While they are often involved in informal, politically relevant processes, such as activism or civic engagement, they are not formally represented in national political institutions such as parliaments or local councils. They struggle to gain the respect of public officials and are seen as lacking the skills and experience to engage in political activity and lead positive change in their communities. This exclusion, combined with limited educational and economic opportunities, growing unemployment rates, stagnant economic growth, and wide scale corruption have contributed to increasing rates of emigration and frustration with the status quo. Young voices on the African continent are demanding progressive social and political inclusion, greater levels of participation, and a change in the configuration of politics. There is an emerging generation of young thought leaders and political change agents on the continent who not only need a favorable environment and appropriate laws but also the skills and resources to effectively engage in politics, evolve a new paradigm and consolidate democracy in Africa.

The Next Mandela Project is an initiative of the Network for Solidarity, Empowerment and Transformation for All (NewSETA), funded by the National Endowment for Democracy based in Washington DC. It is an annual training targeting young aspiring politicians and youth leaders interested in holding political office and advancing good governance, justice, transparency in government, and democracy in Cameroon (and Africa) through training, and mentoring. The Next Mandela Project is meant for political aspirants aged between 23 and 35 hoping to build their capacity to run for office in the 2025 Legislative and Municipal elections and those to hold beyond those dates. The 2024 series will host 30 youth leaders from the ten (10) regions of Cameroon for three (03) days during which participants shall exchange and build knowledge, skills, and values needed in running for office and advancing democracy work. After the training a mentorship follow-up program will be developed for participants during which they are expected to develop a Political Routing Project (PRP) on the field. The PRP shall map conditions and prerequisites on the field for developing issue-based responsive manifestos for their constituencies. Young people actively involved in any political party are welcome to apply and participate in the project. During the program, fellows will engage in a series of theoretical and interactive exercises designed to develop their knowledge and political leadership skills. After the training, aspirants are expected to have acquired critical skillsets in political participation including the following:

  • The organisation of the State and Government/political parties
  • Understanding of electoral laws and process in Cameroon
  • Organisation of the National Assembly and Local Councils – Functions of Councillors/Mayors and MPs
  • Economic, Social, and Sustainable Development
  • Human rights, Gender and Discrimination
  • Policy making, Political Ideology, and Building a Political Manifesto
  • Communication (public speaking, personal branding and media & social media presence)
  • Campaigning for change: campaigns, advocacy, lobbying, fundraising
  • Voter mobilization
  • Leadership: corruption & ethics, maintaining integrity, decision-making, conflict resolution, intercultural / intergroup skills
  • Personal wellbeing and resilience


Applicants (male or female) interested in The Next Mandela Project should:

  • Be minimum 23 years old and no older than 35 years of age,
  • Preferably is a youth leader affiliated with a Political Party.
  • Intends to run in upcoming elections
  • Applicant must demonstrate a high level of interest in politics, leadership and community service

 Each attendee must (following the training) conduct a Political Routing Project (PRP) activity which culminates in a clear political agenda for their community. Certificates are given to individuals only.

 Please Note: The 2024 Next Mandela Project is open to applicants from Cameroon only.  

How to Apply

Interested applicants should complete the  Online Application form, and attach with it a curriculum vitae, and One (1) recommendation letter from one of the two referees (A) who should be a party representative and be mentioned on the Application form.  Applicants should only mention the required details of the second referee (B) on the Application form without asking them to write a second recommendation letter for the candidate. Please, direct all questions to the email: info@newseta.org

 Language Requirement

A working knowledge of English and French is an important prerequisite for participation in the Next Mandela Project for general communication purposes. Facilitators may prefer to use either of the languages during the training.  All application materials must be submitted in English or French.

 Selection Process

Following the application process, participants will be selected by a team at NewSETA. Selection will be based on a set of criteria including:

  • Demonstrated activism or interest in politics, leadership and community service , environment
  • Party membership
  • Participation in upcoming elections, and
  • A clear explanation of how the program will benefit their own efforts for advancing democracy.
  • Applicant must have the ability to communicate clearly and be proficient in reading and writing English or French


The deadline for application for the 2024 Next Mandela Project is May 20, 2024. Two weeks following the deadline, applicants shall be notified of their status. Selected applicants shall be contacted and provided with further details about the rest of the program, to take place in late June 2024. Selected candidates shall pay in a one-off registration fee of 15000 FCFA upon arrival at the training. If for any reason an applicant is unable to attend the program after he/she has been selected, they should please promptly notify NewSETA of this to enable us contact alternate candidates in time.

Structure of The Next Mandela Project

The training shall last three (03) days:
– Main Focus – See themes identified in the background
– Award of Qualified Politician Certificate
– Political Routing Project (conducted within 06 weeks after Training)

Political Routing Project

Within 06 weeks following the training, each attendee shall conduct a Political Routing Project which entails reaching out to their various constituencies and mapping out the 10 most important issues affecting the lives of the population, and proposing a new vision for their community that takes stock of the findings. These will be built into a manifesto for their campaigns.

 Support and Services

1- Accommodation and Meals:

Participant accommodation and meals shall be covered by NewSETA throughout the duration of the training.

2-  Transportation and Logistics

For the training, your roundtrip ticket (Economy only) to and from the venue shall be covered by NewSETA. Please take note that this is not calculated to cover airfares.  Moreover, all refunds shall only happen at the end of the event before your departure. Each attendee should please bring along their boarding pass or transport tickets to complete this process. NewSETA shall provide attendees with study materials needed for the training


Each attendee who successfully completes the Next Mandela Project shall be awarded the Qualified Politician Certificate.


During the training, daily sessions shall commence at 8:30 am and end at 6 pm, while the night sessions shall commence at 8 pm after dinner and end at 10 pm (All sessions are compulsory for participants).


Smoking is not permitted at the event venue. If you wish to smoke, please ensure that you move away from the vicinity. For participants who take alcohol, you are also advised not to take alcohol before or during the sessions or you may be asked to forfeit that session.

Health and other contingencies:

You are advised to ensure that you are medically fit to embark on any journey or strenuous movement to attend this event. While we may not insist on medical reports from participants, we advise you to inform us in advance of any special health condition peculiar to you.

NewSETA, NED or the event administrators will not be responsible for any health condition or medical cost that may be incurred during or in the process of attending The Next Mandela Project Semesters. We regret that we cannot provide health insurance cover for our attendees. However, we shall be attentive to administer possible first aid measures and provide information and directives to get necessary medical attention should the need arise.

In addition, participants are encouraged to be very vigilant towards their personal possessions as we shall take no responsibility for any loss of private possessions incurred during or in the process of attending the trainings.


Dressing could be formal or informal, western or traditional, but we suggest that moderation in dressing should guide participants. We strongly advise against indecent dressing – especially in a manner that unduly exposes sensitive body parts at any level.

Special Dress Code:

On the last day of the training we expect every attendee to come out in their traditional local attires to promote Cameroonian culture.


Participants shall be served breakfast, lunch and supper daily with a variety of at least two Cameroonian meals throughout the training.

We look forward to a fruitful outing with you in Yaoundé, the city of many possibilities!

The NewSETA Team