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During US president Barack Obama’s visit to South Africa last weekend, he announced the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. This fellowship is the new flagship programme under the president’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Part of this programme is Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative, which offers internships across the continent.
The Washington Fellowship initiative is an annual programme and will commence next year and will put more than 500 young African leaders through leadership training and mentoring in the United States. This will “also create unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to use their new skills to propel economic growth and prosperity, and strengthen democratic institutions.”
Apart from the US public services, the private sectors also has a vested interest in this initiative. Initiatives like Microsoft 4Afrika will specifically offer internships for YALI Fellows in their offices across Africa, including in Cairo, Tunis, Casablanca, Abidjan, Dakar, Accra, Lagos, Abuja, Luanda, Johannesburg, and Nairobi.
The Washington fellowship will aim to invest in a new generation of young African leaders who are shaping the continent’s future. More than 60% of the continent’s population is below 35 years old. It is hoped that this initiative will meet the demand by young African leaders for practical skills in the fields of public service and business.
Apart from deepening partnerships and connections between the United States and Africa, the initiative will also attempt to build a prestigious network of young African leaders who are at the forefront of change and innovation in their respective sectors.
The programme will, over the years, increase its participation. Through YALI, the United States is said to be investing in the next generation of African leaders, and has committed significant resources to enhance leadership skills, bolster entrepreneurship and connect young African leaders with one another and the United States.
The US, in conjunction with leading private sector partners such as Boeing, Ethiopian Air, and Microsoft, will support the Washington Fellows in pursuing these opportunities.