President Barack Obama speaks during a “town hall” meeting at the Summit of the Washington Fellowship for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in Washington, DC on July 28, 2014 On Tuesday, President Obama announced the creation of four African Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Senegal as part of the Young African Leadership Initiative Network (YALI). The centers will provide training on leadership and issues across multiple sectors, support entrepreneurship and present opportunities for young leaders to network with each other as well as American professionals and experts from across the region.

“Beginning in 2015, these Centers will improve the availability and quality of leadership training programs and professional development opportunities for young African leaders,” says the YALI press release.

President Obama made the announcement at the YALI Summit in Washington, DC. This was a town hall with 500 young African leaders who pioneered the new initiative which has been dubbed the Mandela Washington Fellowship. Fellows are between the ages of 25-35 years and have been in the United States since June 16 for six weeks of leadership training at 22 top U.S. universities such as Yale University, Dartmouth University, UC Berkeley University of Arkansas, and Howard University. They were trained in the following areas: business and entrepreneurship, civic engagement and public administration.

President Obama also announced that the fellowship will double in size to 1000 participants each year by 2016.

The YALI Summit comes on the eve of the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a gathering aimed at strengthening ties between the United States and African countries. The Leaders will be in Washington, DC from 4-6 August. It will focus on the U.S. administration’s trade and investment with Africa, and their commitment to the continent’s security among other things.


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