WASHINGTON – Nearly 700 young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa, who were chosen from more than 38, 000 applicants, met with U.S. government officials, civil society and private sector leaders at the State Department-sponsored Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington D.C. on Monday. They were urged to go back to the continent and disrupt the status quo.

The young African leaders convened in Washington after six weeks of academic study and leadership training at 27 higher education institutions across the United States as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Mandela Washington Fellows from Nigeria

The Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit fosters and builds relationships that support and expand U.S.-Africa cooperation.

Mandela Washington Fellows from Cameroon pictured with the Cameroonian flag at the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington DC on July 29, 2019. Photo: Simon Ateba, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

Kay Coles James, President of the Conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. urged the fellows to use the knowledge and experiences gained during their stay at some of America’s top leadership institutions and use them to transform the continent.

Mandela Washington Fellows from Nigeria pictured with the Nigerian flag at the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington DC on July 29, 2019. Photo: Simon Ateba, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, who delivered welcome remarks, urged the fellows to believe in themselves and use their God-given brains and experiences to change their lives and develop Africa.

Elsie Sampson, Mandela Washington Fellow from Ghana stands in front of the Ghanaian and American flags at the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington DC on July 29, 2019. Photo: Simon Atbea, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

Everyone is responsible for their successes or failures in life and education, our brains and hard work make the difference between success and failure, he said.

The Summit, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. would end on Wednesday July 31.

It would feature a Policy Spotlight Plenary with Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Tibor Nagy, breakout sessions with senior U.S. government officials on a range of U.S. foreign policy priorities throughout Africa, such as advancing trade to increase prosperity, short presentations by the Fellows themselves, and will close with Malawian innovator, engineer, and author, William Kamkwamba.

Mandela Washington Fellow from Niger pictured at the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington DC on July 29, 2019. Photo: Simon Ateba, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

“Alumni of the Fellowship continue to play a key role in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a key element in the United States’ effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders,” the State Department said in a statement last week.

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Simon Ateba | Washington DC / Source link