President Obama at Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

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“We’re thrilled to welcome you, our Washington Fellows, to an exchange program unlike any other that America has ever had with Africa,” President Obama said July 28 at a town-hall meeting with 500 exceptional young people who participated in the inaugural Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The fellowship, announced in 2013 as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), aims to connect young African leaders with leadership training opportunities at some of America’s top universities to expand their leadership skills and knowledge. YALI was launched in 2010 to support an emerging generation of African leaders as they work to drive economic growth, enhance democratic governance and strengthen civil society structures. During his July 28 remarks at the YALI Summit, Obama announced that the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program will be renamed in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela. He also announced new public-private partnerships to create a continuum of programs, platforms and support for young African leaders. The new investments include development of four Regional Leadership Centers in Africa, an array of online classes and resources, and opportunities for seed funding, mentoring and networking. The YALI Summit set the stage for the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. That event, scheduled for the week of August 3, will be the largest gathering any U.S. president has hosted for African heads of state and government. It aims to strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions. With 60 percent of Africa’s population under 35, the future success of African nations will depend on the leadership, skills and ingenuity of this emerging generation of leaders. This public-private partnership is vital to helping better the continent for years to come.

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