Accra, Ghana – On Wednesday, May 15, 2019, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan hosted a reception in honor of the 2019 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) cohort. In attendance were Ghanaian alumni from YALI and other U.S. Government exchange programs from previous years.
Since the inception of the Fellowship, the U.S. Government has committed significant resources to enhancing leadership skills, bolstering entrepreneurship, and connecting young leaders from across Sub-Saharan Africa. This year, the U.S. Embassy in Ghana selected 32 Ghanaians, through a rigorous competitive process. They comprise leaders from business, the public sector, and non-governmental organizations.
In her remarks, Ambassador Sullivan extoled the virtues of the MWF program, saying, “These exchange programs not only provide professional skills and networking opportunities, they also form friendships and bonds between our two countries.” She added, “This goodwill leads to sustained relationships with tangible outcomes that contribute positively to Ghana’s development.”
A total of 700 African leaders between the ages of 25-35 will participate in the Fellowship and hone their skills at a U.S. higher education institution with support for further professional development after they return to their home countries. The Fellowship focuses on leadership and skills development in one of three tracks: Business, Public Management, or Civic Engagement
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of YALI. Launched in 2010, YALI seeks to invest in the next generation of African leaders to spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative contains three programs – the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the YALI Regional Leadership Center Program, and the on-line platform YALI Network. To learn more, visit yali.state.gov.
Read Ambassador Sullivan’s remarks at the reception below.
Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan’s Remarks
Reception in Honor of the
2019 Ghana Mandela Washington Fellows
May 15, 2019, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
We’re here tonight to announce our outstanding 2019 Mandela Washington Fellows! On behalf of the U.S. Mission in Ghana, I commend each of you for your leadership, hard work, and perseverance. Every year in Ghana, and across Africa, thousands of youth apply to be a part of this fellowship, undergoing a competitive and rigorous application and interview process. This year’s Ghanaian cohort of 32 Mandela Washington Fellows represents the best and brightest of Ghana’s young professionals from diverse sectors across the country.
Empowering youth is at the heart of the U.S.-Africa partnership. Across the continent, the United States partners with national and local governments, civil society organizations, and citizens from all walks of life to advance mutually reinforcing goals of democracy, prosperity, and stability. I cannot emphasize enough how critical youth engagement is in our pursuit of those goals.
To reinforce this point, I offer an opinion piece titled, “The Future Belongs to Africa,” written by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador Tibor Nagy last year in which he outlined the United States’ priorities in Africa and stated his goal to harness the potential of Africa’s youth as a force for economic ingenuity:
“Everyone who follows trends in Africa knows that a demographic “tsunami” is coming between now and 2050, when the continent will double its population to more than two billion and the percentage of Africans younger than 25 years of age will surpass 75 percent. These millions of Africans […] will have high aspirations for employment and a better quality of life – no different from young people anywhere else in the world. Unless we harness the entrepreneurial spirit and dynamism of young Africans and help create jobs and opportunities that will help them thrive in their countries, we will not see the economic development needed to sustain these populations.”
And this is why programs like the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) exist. The United States is a committed partner to Africa on this front as evidenced in the initiative’s launch in 2010, with the aim of investing in the next generation of African leaders. Since then, we’ve committed significant resources to enhance leadership skills, bolster entrepreneurship, and connect young African leaders from across the continent with one another.
Since its inception, YALI has grown to include three program components: the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the Regional Leadership Centers, and the YALI Network. All of these complement one another to form a large and dynamic network of young African leaders who are improving transparency and accountability of governments, starting and growing businesses, innovating, and, ultimately, serving their communities.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of YALI. The 32 Ghanaian fellows will join counterparts from all Sub-Saharan African countries for an intensive six-week academic and leadership training program to further develop the leadership skills needed to be effective leaders in organizations, communities, and countries.
Upon their return, the 2019 cohort will join over 200 Ghanaian Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni. Beyond that, they will become part of the larger U.S. – Ghana Alumni Association, which numbers in the thousands, all bound by their shared experience of participating in an educational or cultural exchange program in the United States. These exchange programs not only provide professional skills and networking opportunities, they also form friendships and cement bonds between our two countries. This goodwill leads to sustained relationships with tangible outcomes that contribute positively to Ghana’s development. Allow me to provide a few examples:
2018 Fellow Terrence Addey is a police officer. During his fellowship at Arizona State University, Addey met Dr. Noah Fritz from the Mesa, Arizona Police Department. With support from the State Department, Terrence invited Dr. Fritz to Ghana to build capacity of Ghanaian police officers on data collection, map creation, geocoding, visualization, and spatial analysis to better respond to the communities that they serve and protect.
2018 Fellow Emmanuel Afful Yeboah, who is a Corrections Officer with the Ghana Prisons Service, invited Jason Walker, Division Director – Reentry Unit of the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department. The two met while Emmanuel was a fellow at Arizona State University. Director Walker trained Ghanaian prisons officers in evidence-base practices and concepts in reducing recidivism, to make sure that once inmates serve their time they leave the prison system to lead productive and responsible lives.
2017 Fellow Isaac Quaidoo founded a non-governmental organization called “Save the Bee Foundation Ghana” to promote beekeeping as an alternative livelihood in some selected rural communities in the Western and Central Regions. In May 2018, Isaac worked with Mr. Bob Wolff Jr. from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who came to Ghana to share the latest uses of bee products on the global market. This cross-cultural exchange continues to bolster Isaac’s business and strengthen his global network.
Finally, I would like to highlight one additional fellow from last year’s cohort, Dr. Joannishka Dsane who gained recognition for her achievements as one of the few female veterinarians in Ghana. Of the 700 fellows from across Africa who participated in the 2018 Fellowship, there was only one veterinarian, Ghana’s very own Dr. Joannishka! Since the fellowship, Joannishka has been busy running her NGO Dom Mira Ghana, an animal rescue program. She also produces a live TV show, “Today’s Vet,” which airs every Saturday morning on Joy Prime.
These are just a few examples of recent Ghanaian Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni. U.S. Embassies around the world are very proud of their alumni family, and with reason – it’s an impressive group! Worldwide, 335 current or former heads of government are alumni of U.S. government exchange programs. Here in Ghana, we have nearly 3,000, including alumni of a wide array of leaders in government, business, academia, and civil society. For example, well-known alumni who hold or have held prominent positions are the Speaker of Parliament, the Honorable Mike Ocquaye; Minority Leader, the Honorable Haruna Iddrisu; and Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo. Former President J. A. Kufuor was a participant in the International Visitor Leadership Program in 1969, while former President John Evans Atta-Mills was a Fulbright scholar at Stanford University in 1972.
A few final thoughts for our 2019 Fellows:
We believe in you and your capacity to transform Ghana’s future. On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, we congratulate you once again on your selection as a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow. We look forward to seeing you when you return, and we stand ready to work with you as partners in forging Ghana’s future.
Best of luck – we know you will represent Ghana well!