Remarks by Public Affairs Officer Roberto Quiroz II at Young African Leaders and Entrepreneurs Summit

PAO Roberto Quiroz delivering remarks at the YALES program.
Public Affairs Officer Roberto Quiroz II answers questions from audience at the Young African Leaders and Entrepreneurs Summit in Ghana on September 21, 2017.

Mr. Prince Busia Opoku, Executive Director of the Institute of Applied Human Excellence of Ghana;

Dr. Bruce H. Jackson, whose assistance with free leadership programs for everyone who wishes to effectively manage his/her assets and liabilities make a real difference in building new leaders for this region;

The C. Charles Jackson Foundation, whose generous support to organize this annual YALES event and multi university leadership and entrepreneurship programs in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are also transforming lives;

The following individuals, for their great commitment in organizing events and volunteering in communities:

Magdaline Alhassan, Chief Operations Officer of the Institute of Applied Human Excellence of Ghana;

Janet Emefa Agbedor, President of Applied Excellence Society Africa;

Bright A. Yussif, Administrative Assistant at the Institute of Applied Human Excellence of Ghana;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen and distinguished guests.

Thanks for welcoming me here this morning.  This is only my seventh week in Ghana, but in that short timeframe it has been deeply impressive to meet so many young people committed to giving of themselves and their talents to contribute to Ghana’s development.  This includes especially from women and girls, whose efforts are essential and necessary to truly promote development in America, Ghana, and all nations.

Ambassador Robert P. Jackson has made building strong partnerships with young leaders like you one of our highest priorities.  As he has said, he and the United States deeply believe in you and your potential to achieve any goal by earning an education, hard work, ethics, transparency, character, humility, perseverance, learning from failure and success alike, and uplifting the lives of others.

As you rise in life, never forget those who have encouraged and mentored you in your journey.  Remember those who depend on leaders like you to help improve their own lives.  The call of a servant leader is one of defined by the spirit of volunteerism, the welcoming of great responsibilities, and the enjoyment of few privileges, from which the greatest is to serve others after reaching unique opportunities often not available to others.  The example of leaders promotes the growth of new leaders.  If one wins, we all win.  Then Senator Robert F. Kennedy said in 1968 that “too often we excuse those who build their own lives on the shattered dreams of other human beings.”  Therefore, commit yourselves to build your own lives on the realized dreams of other human beings.

Please allow me to highlight the work of Mr. Prince Busia Opoku.  He is a young leader whose efforts promote development in the lives of children, youth, and communities.  He believes as you do that it is necessary to fully develop the potential of all youth through projects that enhance access to a quality education, health care, a corruption-free society, and strengthening our communities.

He is the project Manager of the Young African Leaders and Entrepreneurs Summit, a vibrant annual summit under the Institute of Applied Human Excellence of Ghana.   Together with his team from I.A.H.E Ghana, he has won competitive grants from the C. Charles Jackson Foundation to promote Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development in Africa. This project has empowered many undergraduates, post-graduates, Young Leaders, and Entrepreneurs from Congo, Togo, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and others through an impactful exchange of ideas with professionals. The project seeks to redevelop leadership in Africa, to create a responsible youth, willing and ready to serve their communities.

This project has welcomed YOU for a special reason.  Please give yourselves a round of applause.

When former President Barack Obama founded the Young African Leaders Initiative/Mandela Washington Fellows Program, he did so in the knowledge that for too long Africa as a continent has been perceived as afflicted by wars, famine, and poverty — needing aid and foreign assistance to promote development.  

The United States saw then, and still sees, Africa as very different than that image.  It is a new Africa, vibrant with growing enterprises and natural resources that must be protected and preserved, or — if used — used for the benefit of Africans first.  

An Africa where a young population is eager to assume their responsibilities as citizens to contribute to their countries, this continent, and the world we share.

An Africa where its youth is now interconnected with the world through travel and the internet, and whose hopes and aspirations for a better future mirror those of their counterparts in America, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and other nations.

An Africa where youth like you understand that building strong institutions are the foundation for stronger democracies for governments to serve all citizens – not the other way around.

An Africa where private sectors flourish through transparent means to welcome new investors from home and abroad, thereby creating needed jobs to reduce the persistent challenges of unemployment.

As we have seen, four of the best ways to promote peace and prosperity, among others, are the following listed in equal order of importance:

First, to provide all children an education;

Second, to ensure that youth entering the job market find employment.  This will provide them the dignity of work rewarding their talents and generating for them the economic sustenance necessary to support their communities.

Third, to combat corruption because it steals directly from the pockets of citizens. Corruption deprives them the freedom and fairness necessary in democracies, it undermines all sectors and chips away at the foundations of trust and confidence so necessary for citizens to hold for their public institutions.  That is why the United States has laws in place that will punish any U.S. company engaging in corruption overseas.  American investments are and must be transparent always, holding a golden standard that all citizens can be proud of.  American companies must hire and train local citizens in nations where they operate. They must provide them first class technology, they must never engage in corruption, and they engage in corporate responsibility programs.  That is the record of American investments.  Allow me to say how wonderful it is to see famous American brands here in Accra.  

And fourth, to advance human rights, including efforts to eliminate the scourge of human trafficking, which today continues to afflict and affect too many victims around the world, from children trafficked to serve as fishermen to others whose fates have been rescued by heroes who combat human trafficking against great odds and at great danger to themselves.  

We must advance those goals each day.  This journey may seem long at times, but is always necessary if you seek to materialize your vision.  You play a central role in shaping that journey as young African leaders.

I also encourage you to consider applying for the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows program.  The deadline for applications is Wednesday, October 11.  All of our alumni share the same passion and commitment as you to build that new Africa many of you are witnessing today.

A top contributor to peacekeeping forces around the world.  

A continent with fast growing economies.

An Africa where the future is you, and where as has been said previously, you are the change you have been waiting for. That is what the United States is proud to support.