YALI Mandela Washington Fellows Discuss Sustainable Development and the Future of Africa

YALI West Africa Regional Advisory Board Chair, Victorine Kambe Sarr addressing the conference
YALI West Africa Regional Advisory Board Chair, Victorine Kambe Sarr addressing the conference
Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng, US Embassy Accra, Ghana

For Immediate Release

Saturday, May 21, 2016
Sharon Kellman Yett

Accra, Ghana -- Over 160 young leaders from 21 West African countries gathered in Accra, Ghana, to share their expertise and engage on critical issues for the future of Africa. In support of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, USAID and IREX organized the 2nd West Africa Regional Conference for Mandela Washington Fellows in Accra from May 19 – 21, 2016. Fellows are leading social entrepreneurs, public servants, and community activists who are effecting positive change in their communities.

The Conference highlighted key pathways for promoting a multi-sector approach to sustainable and inclusive development, fostering solutions to combat youth unemployment, building democratic governance, achieving the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and finding strategies for tackling emerging security threats. Launching the Conference, Linda Etim, Assistant Administrator for Africa, USAID, discussed the path forward for sustainable development, saying “We know what the challenges are, we also know there are opportunities and innovation potential in each country. It is only through inclusion at all levels of society that these opportunities can be realized.” The Town Hall on Agenda 2063 with Dr. Joseph Chilengi, Presiding Officer at the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) of the African Union, was another highlight, as he emphasized to the young leaders, “We have to come together to build an Africa where the first priority is you.”

Event speakers also included Hon. Samuel Ablakwa-Okudzeto, the Deputy Minister of Education in Ghana; U.S Ambassador to Ghana Robert P. Jackson; and Theo Sowa, CEO of the African Women's Development Fund.

The Conference included a pitch competition where Fellows presented their project or product ideas to a panel of judges representing the private and nonprofit sectors. Mr. Oluwamayowa Salu from Nigeria was awarded 1st Place for his project, creating educational comic books on malaria for youth, which he is sharing across Africa with the support of the Fellowship network.

The West African Fellows included participants from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, São Tome and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship brings hundreds of young African professionals from across the continent to U.S. universities for six weeks of leadership training in the areas of business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, or public management. Competitively selected for this prestigious program, the Fellows represent the continent’s emerging generation of entrepreneurs, community leaders, and public officials.

USAID and IREX support Mandela Washington Fellows with continuing professional development opportunities in Africa in coordination with the West Africa Civil Society Institute in Accra, Ghana.

For all inquiries and media requests contact:
Erin Powell
Email: newsroom@irex.org