Remarks as prepared for USAID/KEA Deputy Mission Director Dr. Tina Dooley-Jones for the Opening of the YALI East Africa Conference

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Remarks as prepared for USAID/KEA Deputy Mission Director Dr. Tina Dooley-Jones for the Opening of the YALI East Africa Conference

Good morning Mandela Washington Fellows and other distinguished guests from across the region.

It is a pleasure to welcome you to this second YALI Regional Conference in East Africa on behalf of USAID.

I would firstly like to thank the Regional Advisory Board members for their work in planning and executing this Conference.

I also thank IREX and its local partner VSO Jitolee for the collaborative work being undertaken to support this YALI Conference and other networking and professional development activities.

And, finally, thank you to all the Fellows for gathering here in Kenya for the East Africa Regional Conference.

I hear of your many important community, personal and business initiatives, and I appreciate that you are busy and pulled in multiple directions.

I commend you for making time to reconnect with each other, network, and discuss and problem-solve some of the most critical issues which face the region and the world today, including equitable development, peace, and economic growth.

At USAID, our mission is to partner with governments, the private sector, civil society, and young leaders like you to end extreme poverty and to promote the development of resilient, democratic societies.

We know that we cannot accomplish this Mission alone, and I am so inspired to hear of your ideas, accomplishments, and endeavors. You have demonstrated that you are capable of living up to President Obama’s vision for the Young African Leaders Initiative.

I appreciate your focus on regional integration and that you are taking advantage of opportunities to collaborate across borders, across the continent, and beyond.

We are fortunate to have representatives from the African Union and regional economic communities with you at this year’s conference. Dr. Chilenge, thank you for taking the time to travel to Nairobi to address the Fellows today.

I was happy to hear that during this past year, YALI formed a partnership with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (or IGAD), and that the Executive Secretary of IGAD will be speaking with you tomorrow.

I am also glad to know that you are taking advantage of opportunities to engage with regional economic communities and other pan-African initiatives that are designed to operate in the same collaborative, inclusive spirit as YALI.

There are have been many inspiring stories and important accomplishments achieved by the Fellows, so I wanted to highlight just a few of these.

I commend Asha Shabaan, a 2015 Kenyan Fellow, who recently completed a practicum, with USAID support, at IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Application Centre. Asha is a water resources management policy expert, and she credits her IGAD practicum with helping her improve her negotiation skills, better communicate scientific evidence-based research, better understand the international policy scene, and establish important networks. Like Asha, I encourage you to make the most of the resources and networks at hand, at this conference and after your Fellowship.

President Obama, on his historic trip to Kenya last year, celebrated entrepreneurship and innovation. I love hearing about the business and social entrepreneurs here in the room today who, through their enterprises, are improving community services and creating jobs.

Miriam Kyasiimire, a 2015 Fellow from Uganda is the founder and CEO of Kagera Safaris and a safari guide. Through the Fellowship, Miriam took on a professional practicum with her host organization called the Community-Based Tourism Initiative in Uganda. The practicum provided her with the opportunity to learn about community tourism, and introduced her to methods of identifying community tourist attractions and engaging with homesteads in community tourism. As a result of the practicum, Mariam and Kagera Safaris are already finding new ways to direct tourism dollars straight to local communities, supporting conservation of both culture and wildlife.

Another Fellow, Raymond Magambo from Tanzania, is preparing to launch Tiketi Rafiki, a mobile app that will allow Tanzanians to buy bus tickets online. His Fellowship mentor, Ayelet [eye-YELL-it] Baron, is a global thought leader who previously held several executive positions at Cisco Systems. With the guidance of his mentor, Raymond has developed a marketing and partnership strategy in preparation to launch his new app in July. Raymond, we wish you all the best with the launch of your new project.

To all of you, as you continue to grow your businesses, public ventures, and civic initiatives, I encourage you to consider and use the expansive networks of the broader YALI family. The YALI Regional Leadership Center here in East Africa has already graduated nearly 500 ambitious young leaders like you. They are your potential partners, colleagues and mentors.

This evening, you will have the chance to visit the Regional Leadership Center, and we look forward to hearing of more joint ventures between Mandela Washington Fellows and Center Alumni.

The YALI Network has more than 200,000 members engaged in causes, businesses and initiatives that align with the Mandela Washington Fellowship. You can easily connect with these members at regional or country level for collaboration.

I know that I have shared only a few examples of the exciting work you are all undertaking in your respective communities. Thank you for your leadership in creating the future you wish to see for Africa and the world.

I wish you successful engagement and fun together over the next three days.

I look forward to hearing of the debates and discussions, and especially of the collaborative opportunities that will come out of this time together, and with public- and private-sector parties.

Thank you and enjoy the conference!

East Africa Regional
Issuing Country