US President Barack Obama has announced that one thousand youthful Africans will travel to the United States for next year’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Summit.
Launched five years ago, the YALI supports young leaders to enhance socio-economic and political initiatives in Africa.
This year’s summit brought together 500 African youth from sub-Saharan Africa, with President Obama, fresh from a two-nation African tour of Kenya and Ethiopia, telling them that the youth are driving Africa’s progress.
“Africa is on the move” he said and added: “And young people like you are driving so much of this progress, because Africa is the youngest continent.”
He said the continent had registered progress in areas like HIV/Aids, maternal health and poverty eradication.
President Obama announced up to 80 Americans will be traveling to Africa next year to work with Mandela-Washington Fellow alumni and other young Africans.
YALI was announced by President Obama during a trip to South Africa in 2013, and this year the young leaders were connected to 20 universities ‘where they spent six weeks expanding their skills in everything from entrepreneurship to civic affairs’.
“…when you have all gone on to be ministers in government or leaders in business or pioneers of social change, you will still be connecting with each other, that you will still be learning from each other and that, together, you will be reaching back and helping the next generation,” President Obama said.
According to the White House, about 140,000 members of the YALI network have access to online courses, including guidance on how to start a business.
On top of the existing leadership centre in Kenya, YALI will open up other leadership centres in Ghana, South Africa and Senegal this year, with all four expected to train 3,500 young Africans each year.