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Monday, July 28, 2014

We Like This! Young African Leaders Initiative

Initiative named the Mandela Washington Fellowship For Young African Leaders

from the White House

...the President will participate in a town hall with 500 exceptional young people who participated in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, an initiative he announced in 2013 as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). President Obama first launched YALI in 2010 to support an emerging generation of African leaders as they work to drive economic growth, enhance democratic governance, and strengthen the civil society structures that will help the continent grow and prosper.  The President announced the creation of this Fellowship, which connects young African leaders to leadership training opportunities at some of America’s top universities to expand their leadership skills and knowledge, during his 2013 trip to South Africa.

President Obama speaking to young, future African leaders.   
You can watch this event live at  Photo/Politics. On Point.

During the town hall, the President will deliver remarks to announce that the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program will be renamed in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela.  The President will also announce new public-private partnerships to create a continuum of programs, platforms, and support for young African leaders.  These new investments will include the development of four Regional Leadership Centers in Africa, a vast array of online classes and resources, along with seed funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

Through YALI, the United States is investing in the next generation of African leaders, and has committed significant resources to enhance leadership skills, bolster entrepreneurship, and connect young African leaders with one another, the United States, and the American people.  Signature aspects of this expansion include:
·         The creation of four Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa. 
·         The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders will be renamed as the “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders” and will be doubled in size to reach 1,000 participants each year by 2016.   
·         New virtual resources and vibrant physical spaces for the YALI Network.
·         Hundreds of new entrepreneurship grants and mobile incubators, and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit will be held in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015.

Deepening Our Reach on the Continent: Regional Leadership Centers

Today, President Obama will announce the creation of four Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa.  Beginning in 2015, these Centers will improve the availability and quality of leadership training programs and professional development opportunities for young African leaders.  Each will be run as a public-private partnership, capitalizing on the energy and dynamism of the private sector, the knowledge of African and American institutions, and the programmatic and educational resources of the U.S. Government.  The Centers will focus on engaging young leaders from a wide range of organizations and backgrounds and with a diversity of experiences.  The Regional Leadership Centers will:
·         Provide Quality Leadership Training:  Centers will provide both long and short courses on leadership and issues across multiple sectors.    
·         Support Entrepreneurship:  Centers will provide entrepreneurship support services, including mentoring, technology, and access to capital.
·         Enhance Professional Networking:  Centers will offer young leaders the opportunity to connect with each other, American professionals, and experts from across the region.

More information available here.


During the president's remarks he took questions from the promising leaders of tomorrow.  

One question found the president talking about women's rights on the Continent, which translated to violence against women here at home.

Q. "How committed is the United States to promoting gender equality in Africa?"

President Obama.  "Nobody feels more strongly about this than I do. The most successful countries are the ones who treat their women well. If you are not empowering your women you are crippling your country," he said. 
The president remarked that some old traditions should be sent by the way side.

"You young people do not have to hold to old traditions," he said. "Female genital mutilation and violence against women are bad traditions that must be eliminated."

Quite a timely comment coming on the heels of the recent event surrounding the two-game suspension of Baltimore Raven Ray Rice for a domestic violence charge, and the comments by sports analyst Stephen A. Smith, who said "women should learn not to provoke men" to the point of being beat.

The president later added that, "All the men here must be just as committed to empowering women as the women are."

The audience got euphoric when the president remarked that "a strong man should not feel threatened by a strong woman."

The summit continues through Wednesday where First Lady Michelle Obama is also expected to give remarks.  The event can be seen live-streamed at

President Obama launched the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in 2010 as a signature initiative that supports young African leaders as they work to spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across the continent. 

The first lady supports the opportunity for African youth leaders and spoke to this during her travels to the continent two years ago.

See also

Empowering Africa's Next Generation of Leaders

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