Public Policy Expert
Aida Ndiaye '09

"I believe that individuals who have ideas can change the world, and I have ideas. How do we ensure that our continent emerges and gains the economic and political independence it deserves? This is what my life's purpose should be about."

Aida Ndiaye '09 from Senegal is Public Policy Manager at Facebook, coordinating government relations for the technology giant across 22 countries in French-speaking and Portuguese-speaking Africa. At Quest University, Canada, Aida was the first international student to serve as Student Body President, and at the University of Oxford, where she earned a Master's degree in Public Policy, she served as Vice President of Oxford Women in Politics. Combining these experiences with a professional background spanning companies like IBM, Google, UNESCO and Dalberg, Aida is uniquely positioned to connect people, governments and technology for development in Africa.

Aida Ndiaye grew up in Dakar, Senegal in a lower-middle class Muslim family. Always top of her class in high school, she set up the school’s first newspaper and continually questioned the absence of Africa-centric content in the curriculum. Recognizing her leadership potential, she was referred by the school’s Director to apply to African Leadership Academy. Like many Francophone students arriving at ALA, Aida spoke and understood very little English but persevered through the difficult times, resisting the urge to return to Senegal in those early days.

Establishing a Legacy

Having overcome the language barrier at ALA, Aida pursued university education at Quest University, Canada, through a scholarship made possible by the Mastercard Foundation. On reflection, she says that ALA provided her with the space to find her identity as a leader and Quest gave her the tools and opportunity to fulfill and enact that vision of herself. She studied Development Economics at Quest, seeking to understand the factors that sustain poverty and the innovations to combat it. But it was outside the classroom that she truly thrived as a leader. After establishing and serving as President of the Quest University African Students Association, Aida became the first international, female, non-white student to be elected as President of the student body at Quest. Drawing inspiration from her time at ALA and understanding how it felt to be an outsider, her administration developed several programs aimed at integrating the student body and connecting with the local community. Today, several years after graduating from Quest University, she is filled with immense pride when she sees that the diversity and inclusion programs that she instituted as the leader of the student government are still being implemented.

Public Policy at Oxford

After graduating from Quest University, Aida learned of an opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy at Oxford University through a generous scholarship made available to ALA alumni. At Oxford, she immersed herself in discourse around what constitutes effective governance and the roles that governments play in addressing development challenges globally. Contrasting her world view of leadership in Senegal with her experiences at ALA and Quest, Aida grappled with the effect of government policies on shaping the livelihoods of people. The diversity of the student body at Oxford equally enabled her to have enlightening conversations with her peers, evaluating varying models of leadership across countries. Outside the classroom, she served as Vice President of Oxford Women in Policy and Co-Convener of the Africa Policy Forum. It was during this time that she got connected to her next step – a three-month internship at Facebook.


At Facebook, Aida was tasked with helping the company establish a presence in Francophone (French-speaking) and Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) Africa. This required working with governments to establish digital connectivity programs while working within the company to tailor its offerings to the specific needs of each country. The three-month internship quickly evolved into a full time position, and within three years, Aida was promoted to Public Policy Manager, overseeing 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. She now leads a team working within these markets to promote the deployment of new technologies connecting previously-unreached populations to the internet. Although she values her current work in technology, Aida is conscious that she has a larger role to play in establishing a new era of effective public sector leadership.

Vision for the Future

Aida believes that long lasting change in societies can only be made possible through strong governments. Her journey so far has reinforced her passion for seeing Africa gain political and economic independence, and she sees herself playing a critical role in enabling that future. Through her current role, she finds opportunities to inspire and mentor other women to break boundaries and achieve their full potential. Wherever her journey takes her next, it will surely position her to continue to pursue the greatest possible impact for Africa.

Share this story with your network

Discover more stories

Tapiwa Gambura ’18 – Reclaiming the African Narrative through Film

September 7, 2020

“I believe that individuals who have ideas can change the world, and I have ideas. How do we ensure that our continent emerges and gains the economic and political independence it deserves? This is what my life’s purpose should be about.”

Ny Ony Razafindratandra ’11 – Telling African Stories through Music

May 28, 2020

“I feel like music is a tool for me to make positive change on the continent. The highlight of my musical journey was the validation of 4,000 people in a stadium singing my song from top to bottom without me having to sing it… It has been really nice to see how much impact one can have on a younger generation and even the older generation of people just who want to change.”

Brian Waweru ’09 – Driving African Development through Finance

May 28, 2020

“The formula to success is taking risks. You cannot put yourself in a position to get the desired results if you do not take that first risk. I love my career as an investor; every time we invest in a company or an entrepreneur, we are taking risks. You cannot be successful if you have not taken risks. You cannot be successful if you have not taken risks.”

Aida Ndiaye ’09 – Connecting People, Governments and Technology

May 28, 2020

“I believe that individuals who have ideas can change the world, and I have ideas. How do we ensure that our continent emerges and gains the economic and political independence it deserves? This is what my life’s purpose should be about.”

Wuntia Gomda ’17 & Jesse Forrester ’17 – Building Climate-Resilient Cities

May 28, 2020

“As a Kenyan and a Ghanaian, meeting in South Africa for a project that will benefit neither of our countries but other Africans exemplifies the true spirit of Pan-Africanism. We have a target of positively impacting 5,000 people over the next ten years through The Living Machine. We want to see many people grow and have access to quality food and a better lifestyle. The Living Machine is bigger than just the two of us, or even ALA”.

Tiassa Mutunkei ’18 – Tackling Wildlife Exploitation in Africa

May 28, 2020

“I believe that we as the young generation should come together and take charge of wildlife and wildlands before it’s too late. We are not waiting for older generations to hand it down to us – we will take it, because the time is now. I cannot tell my kids that I’m the reason elephants are extinct. We must all come together to protect our heritage. Animals are Africans too, and we should use our voices to speak up for them.”

Ngor Majak Anyieth ’11 – Educating for Peace in South Sudan

May 28, 2020

“If you were to Google South Sudan today, all you’ll see is violence and bloodshed. It doesn’t represent the whole picture or the South Sudan I am working towards. I am working to build a network of secondary schools across South Sudan that will use educational spaces for peace-building as well as leadership development for young people.”

Rima Tahini ’10 – Developing Africa’s Next Music Stars

May 28, 2020

“For me, it’s beyond being in entertainment; it is about building one of the leading industries in Africa today. I hope to see the African music industry grow, and I want the industry to be developed to a place where we have institutions within it and our artists can flourish and have platforms and opportunities. That feeling of seeing someone go from zero to becoming a star is very fulfilling.”

Kwasi Adu-Berchie ’09 – Pursuing a Breakthrough Cure for Cancer

May 28, 2020

“I am passionate about seeing things through from the beginning to the end. I am interested in finding out if there are affordable ways of treating cancer. I believe that as an engineer I am properly equipped to think creatively about how we can develop these approaches in a cost-effective way so that people living in third world countries can afford it.”

Jihad Hajjouji ’08 – Equipping Education Entrepreneurs for Impact

May 28, 2020

“I believe that access to quality education can transform lives, and I work with a community of entrepreneurs to make that happen. I really enjoy helping others to fulfill their potential. One of the things that inspires me in working with school leaders across the continent is seeing the impact that they’re able to have against the odds. This idea of maximizing resources to give the best to students is what drives me.”

Spencer Horne ’08 – Building the Supply Chain for Remote Communities

May 28, 2020

“We have communities that live sometimes in a state of stagnation where it seems that we cannot shift where they are in the cycle of poverty. Any attempt to do that without connecting them to the global economy will not succeed. How could we expect people to pull themselves by the bootstraps, or produce something that someone else will want to buy when they cannot get those goods to local and regional markets?”

Oyindamola Adefisayo ’08 – Combating Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis

May 28, 2020

“Science education on the continent, unfortunately is lacking in many ways. I do not just want to use my research to find new drugs or find new therapies, I want to use it as a space to increase the interest in the sciences and to build capacity for scientific research on the African continent.”