U.SOfficials Invite Partnership in President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec hosted leaders from Kenya’s private sector, government, and civil society along with youth representatives at his home on January 28, to mark the closing of the application process for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Washington Fellows program, which will send 50 Kenyans to the United States to join 450 other Africans to attend leadership academies.  President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.  The leadership academies will prepare participants for government service, civil society leadership, and private sector entrepreneurship.

“Americans believe in the potential of Kenyan youth.  Our commitment to teach the next generation is a fundamental aspect of the partnership between our two countries,” said Godec.

Ambassador Godec and Associate Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mark Feierstein encouraged potential partners to provide internships and other support to the young African leaders who participate in the Washington Fellows Program.  The Ambassador urged the attendees to consider the possibility of engaging the returning YALI fellows in existing business, civil society, and public sector networks by including them in ongoing professional development programs or supporting new projects.

“Our sustained investment in a network of young African leaders will lead to stronger democratic institutions, spur economic growth, and cement stronger ties to the United States,” said Feierstein.

The Washington Fellowship, which begins in 2014, will bring 500 young leaders to the United States each year for academic coursework and leadership training and will create unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to put new skills to practical use in leading organizations, communities, and countries.  The Fellows will arrive in June, and during the six weeks in the United States, they will attend one of a number of academic and leadership institutes at U.S. universities: business and entrepreneurship institutes, civic leadership institutes, and public management institutes.  At these institutes, they will receive executive leadership training to enhance their existing talent and knowledge, and they will develop individual plans to carry out when they return to Kenya.  In July, they will participate in a Presidential Summit in Washington with President Obama, the capstone of the Fellowship, and have a chance to be together with their peers and build on their training.  On their return to Kenya, the YALI Fellows will have polished the skills they need to become the visionary, dynamic and effective leaders of industry, civil society, and government.

More than 2,500 applications for the 50 spots available to Kenyans have been received this year.