SERVIR and SPoRT Hosting Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Participant

Published: Aug 19 2017

Logo bar for Mandela Washington Fellowship

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s SERVIR and Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center programs have been selected to host Komlan “Richard” Folly, a native of Togo, West Africa, participating in the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in August and September 2017.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking opportunities.  The Fellows, who are between the ages of 25 and 35, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries.  These young leaders represent the diversity of Africa, including equal numbers of women and men, individuals with disabilities, and people from both urban and rural areas.

Folly is part of a larger group of 1,000 Mandela Washington Fellows that were hosted at 38 academic and leadership institutes across the United States earlier this summer*.  These exceptional young leaders met in Washington, D.C., at the end of their institutes for a Summit, and 100 were competitively selected to spend six weeks in professional development training with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies, and government agencies.

“I am very excited to be here working with the NASA SERVIR and NASA SPoRT Teams,” says Folly. “It is like my childhood dream come true. And now I have a unique opportunity that will challenge and support my personal and professional goals. I hope to gain new skills as well as to share my previous work experience.”

SERVIR is a joint initiative of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that connects space to village through partnerships with leading regional organizations around the world. SERVIR helps developing countries use information provided by Earth observing satellites and geospatial technologies to manage critical development issues, empowering decision-makers with tools, products, and services to act locally on issues related to disasters, agriculture, water, and ecosystems and land use.

SPoRT is a NASA project to transition unique observations and research capabilities to the operational weather community to improve short-term forecasts on a regional scale. Folly will work with SERVIR 75% of the time and with SPoRT 25% of the time.

“During the six weeks I will be spending here, I will be working on Remote Sensing for Disaster and Risk Management,” explains Folly. “Also, part of my work will be on the integration of SPoRT products into Google Earth Engine to produce visualizations that will be relevant to agricultural stakeholders.

 Photo of Richard Folly

Folly is a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) specialist, computer programmer, and data journalist. Currently, he is a Technology Trainer at the U.S. Embassy of Togo, and GIS and Communications Consultant at the Ministry of Posts and Digital Economy of the Togolese Government. To contribute to the fight against the lack of computer skills in his community, Komlan trained 60 young girls on coding, and 20 Togolese journalists on data journalism. In 2013, Komlan founded the African Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, an innovative company which works on Space Technology and GIS. He was recently a consultant on an Early Warning System (EWS) development for hydrological, rainfall and climatological data collection for the Togolese Red Cross, in collaboration with the World Bank, the Climate Center and Code for Resilience.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is a U.S. government program that is supported in its implementation by IREX.  For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit and join the conversation with #YALI2017. For press inquiries, contact


*Folly participated in a training course at Arizona State University from June 17 to July 31, 2017, studying Public Management and setting up his Leadership Development Plan (LDP). He also met and networked with staff members of the Earth and Space Exploration School of the Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus, and the NASA-ASU Space Grants Program.

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