Barack Obama

resident Barack Obama speaks to participants of the Presidential Summit for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in Washington, Monday, July 28, 2014, during a town hall meeting. The President announced that the program will be renamed in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela. The summit is the lead-up event to next week’s inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the largest gathering any U.S. President has held with African heads of state.

From July 28 to 30, 500 participants in the Young African Leaders Initiative converged on Washington for the first Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. President Barack Obama hosted a presidential summit and town hall to foster executive leadership training, networking, and skills building among Africa’s most promising young minds.

“The spirit of this program reflects Madiba’s (Mandela) optimism, his idealism, his belief in what he called the endless heroism of youth, and so today with the blessing of the Mandela family . . . we are proud to announce that the new name of this program is the Mandela Washington Fellowship,” President Obama said during the town hall.

The United States intends to double the number of fellowship recipients from 500 to 1000 by the summer of 2016, according to the president, and next year’s presidential summit will be held in sub-Saharan Africa. “The objective was to give young Africans the opportunity to come to the United States and develop their skills as the next generation of leaders in civil society, in business, and government, and the response was overwhelming,” Obama said, referring to the 50,000 young Africans who underwent some difficult and monotonous trials to apply for the program. He added that the initiative would also expand with online courses and training sessions for networking and staring up businesses.

A White House press release indicated Regional Leadership Centers will be created in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa through a U.S. government, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), MasterCard Foundation, and other corporation partnership. The U.S. government is also expanding support to entrepreneurs by connecting them to investors, advisors, and distribution networks, including a 2015 sub-Saharan Africa Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and three partnership opportunity delegations to Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Ghana over the next year, the release stated.

“Our Young African Leaders Initiative is a long-term investment in all of you. And a future that we can build together,” President Obama said.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama, front left, speaks to participants of the Presidential Summit for the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders in Washington, Monday, July 28, 2014, during a town hall meeting.

The fellows, arriving in the United States in June, represent all 49 counties in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 75 percent hold a mid-level or executive position, and 48 percent have a graduate degree. Twenty-five percent currently work in non-governmental institutions and 39 percent operate their own businesses, according to a White House press release.

In recognition of the U.S.-Africa Leadership Summit, {Silke Endress, Lifestyle of the Lady CEO, International Professional Women’s Magazine} hosted the Africa Ambassador Awards Reception, July 26 at the Law Offices of Cooke Robotham LLC in Northwest D.C. Five ambassadors from Tanzania, Djibouti, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Botswana were to be presented awards for their achievements, successes, and impact in the private sector and with U.S. – Africa policies and relations. Due to foreign tribulations, Liberata Mulamula from Tanzania was the only ambassador to attend. “An event like this, it gives me an opportunity to reach out to the American public,” Mulamula said.

In conjunction with the awards reception, the magazine is planning to take American professionals to Tanzania and Mombasa to initiate discussions to facilitate growth in the economy, healthcare system, and education systems, Cole said. A projected date for the trade mission is June 2015.

LaTrina Antoine

Special to the AFRO