Washington ― Africa’s future leaders will enjoy expanded opportunities thanks to a regional leadership program announced by President Obama July 28.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in a July 28 press release, said it will invest more than $38 million to support four regional leadership centers that will train thousands of Africa’s emerging leaders and foster connections, creativity and collaboration in sectors critical to Africa’s growth and development.
USAID’s investment will be more than matched by African and American companies and foundations, including a $10 million, five-year commitment by The Mastercard Foundation.
Obama made the announcement during a town-hall event for 500 Mandela Washington Fellows, participants in a program for distinguished African youth that is part of his Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
“In meetings with young leaders across Africa, I have seen firsthand the incredible energy and creativity among youth that has powered and shaped progress throughout the centuries,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “By connecting these bright leaders to the world’s innovation highways, President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative will empower a new generation to transform the continent and their communities.”
The centers will focus on engaging leaders aged 18 to 35 from a variety of backgrounds to offer accessible leadership training, incubating organizations and entrepreneurship, and to support professional connections among African leaders.
Based in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa, the centers will be run as public-private partnerships, capitalizing on the ingenuity and dynamism of the private sector and the programmatic and educational resources of USAID, according to the agency.
Ten private sector partners and foundations have joined USAID in supporting the effort:
• The MasterCard Foundation: $10 million in financial resources over five years to develop the centers. This commitment from The MasterCard Foundation continues their investments in the education, entrepreneurship and leadership development of young people who come from economically disadvantaged communities in Africa.
• The Dow Chemical Company: $3 million in financial resources toward training facilities and equipment at the centers and $1 million in in-kind resources to develop leadership training, sector expertise and mentoring programs for the centers. Dow’s commitment continues their efforts to promote youth development in Africa and supplements existing programs that provide housing and clean water facilities to those in need, as well as shelters for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
• Atlas Mara: $25 million in loans for young entrepreneurs, financial training and leadership development.
• Microsoft: $12.5 million in propriety business software and hardware.
• McKinsey & Company: $1.5 million in dedicated consultants to assist with program design, as well as management support and access to McKinsey’s Africa Knowledge Center.
• IBM: $500,000 in committed staff time to serve as volunteers at the centers.
• General Electric: program design, training and mentoring.
• Procter & Gamble: leadership training.
• The Mara Foundation: networking mentorship program.
• Intel Corporation: up to $5 million in training entrepreneurship basics and technology trends, as well as volunteer support and coaching.
YALI Fellows and others are in Washington as part of the lead-up to the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a three-day event hosted by President Obama to welcome leaders from across the African continent to Washington.
The summit, the largest event any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government, aims to strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions.
The summit’s theme ― “Investing in the Next Generation” ― underscores that focusing on the next generation is at the core of a government’s responsibility and work. The summit offers an opportunity to discuss ways to stimulate growth, unlock opportunities and create an enabling environment for the next generation.
USAID programs in Africa seek to end extreme poverty by investing in Africa’s people to sustain and advance development, opportunity and human rights for this and future generations.
Across the continent, the agency is implementing major initiatives to improve health, food security, electricity access, trade and resilience that are underpinned by commitments to good governance, education, gender equity and the environment.
Additional information on USAID support for Africa is available on the agency’s website.