YALI Regional Leadership Center (RLC) Accra 15th Cohort Training Closing Ceremony – Remarks by Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan

U.S. Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan presenting an award to a cohort.

YALI Regional Leadership Center (RLC) Accra 15th Cohort Training Closing Ceremony
As Prepared Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan 
Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA)
November 22, 2019, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

I believe in Africa! I believe in Africans! I believe in YOU! What a nice performance – Thank you Team Sierra Leone!

Deputy Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and 
Public Administration (GIMPA) Professor Philip Duku-Osei, 
YALI Regional Leadership Center (RLC) Director 
Dr. Shola Safo-Duodu, [SHOW-la SAH-fo doe-DO]
Dean of Students at GIMPA, Mr. Anthony Sala
Director of Hospitality of GIMPA Mr. Kwame Prempeh, 
USAID West Africa Mission Director Mr. Daniel Moore,
Members of the RLC Governing Council,
Private Sector Partners of 
the YALI Regional Leadership Center Accra, 
Our 2019 YALI RLC West Africa Graduates of Cohort 14 
and Cohort 15,
Members of the media,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, 
All Protocols observed: 

Good morning!

Wow – you all look great! Who’s here from Nigeria? Liberia? Sierra Leone? The Gambia? Cote d’Ivoire? Burkina Faso? Cameroon? Togo? And Ghana?

I’m delighted to be here today at the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center (RLC) to celebrate the success of the 15th cohort of YALI RLC graduates at this closing ceremony. When I hear about the impact that YALI alumni are making across this continent, I know that the program is an excellent investment in the Africa of today and tomorrow by the American people:  an investment in supporting the ideas, aspirations, and efforts of African youth; an investment in African solutions to African challenges; and most of all, an investment in you!

And indeed, Africa has a bright future. 

I’d like to offer my appreciation to those who made today’s program possible.  Thank you to the members of the Accra RLC, and to the staff of GIMPA for organizing this ceremony, and for all the work they do supporting the YALI RLC program.  Training more than 5,100 young leaders is an outstanding achievement. Congratulations!

I’d also like to thank the RLC Governing Council, our YALI RLC partners, trainers, speakers, and support staff for their time dedication to the program’s success.  

To our gracious partners, thank you for your support.  The United States is grateful for your generous contributions towards making the RLC and this program a reality.  

To all the young men and women participants, we are grateful for your commitment to advancing the vision of the program and your determination to make a positive difference in the world. 

Today, we’re honored to have with us several guests from the private sector and many non-government organizations, who share our passion for investing in young African leaders.   I want to thank you for attending this closing ceremony. We appreciate your unwavering support. YALI RLC Graduates, Congratulations on your successful participation in this wonderful opportunity. To cite an African saying that goes against the grain of the more commonly encountered attitude of “wait your turn,” “When the youth beat the drums, the elders can also dance.” 

As U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs Tibor Nagy stated at this year’s Mandela Washington Fellows Summit, “Now with your YALI experience, you bear a special responsibility to help build a better future for Africa, to empower people to be active members of their communities, and to be the force behind democracy, economic growth, and strong civil society. These responsibilities extend to serving as role models for the youth of your countries, sharing your experiences with them, and sharing your skills and expertise to create a ripple effect across the region.”

I know there are many in this room who are already working to fulfill this great responsibility. Young people like Nacel Josephine Johnson, who not only travels around Freetown and surrounding cities to lead and contribute to discussions on inclusivity and equal rights for persons with disabilities in Sierra Leone, but she has also established a partnership between the organization she works with, OneFamilyPeople, and the Accra RLC to help the RLC directly reach, recruit, and train people with disabilities from each of the nine countries during Phase Two of the YALI RLC project. 

Or Andrew Abuska, who owns and manages Eye of the Brain Ecofeeds, an ecological enterprise that produces Neat MagFeed Dried feed for poultry and fish in the Garu Tempane district of Ghana’s Upper East Region.  Andrew recycles organic waste that would have ordinarily been burnt and harmed the environment. He transforms this waste into organic fertilizer. I know that Andrew will employ the skills gained from the RLC program to advance his business while also creating a cleaner environment for future generations in Ghana. We’ll be following your efforts and applauding your continued success.  

As we celebrate all of you here today, I’d like to reaffirm the commitment of the people and government of the United States to support future African leaders, like you, with dreams rooted in service above self.  Let me repeat this important point: service above self. Each of you will play a key role in shaping the future of West Africa.  You are here today because you decided to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  

We place our hope in you to unite people across all levels of society to be positive builders of peace and development.  It takes a special kind of leader to motivate others to identify and reach common solutions to extraordinary challenges.   Let me remind you of our expectation that you will embody the spirit of the following saying: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, to learn more, to do more and to become more, then you are a leader.”  

Graduates, your experience as part of this prestigious residential program may have concluded, but I understand you still have some homework to do, and your work as soon-to-be YALI alumni is just beginning.  You are now a part of a larger network, joining the ranks of the exceptional Mandela Washington Fellows and YALI Network alumni. 

I challenge you to see yourselves as key contributors to your country, the continent of Africa, and the world.  We all share one planet and one home. If Ghana and Africa prosper, then the United States and the world also prosper.    

Thanks for your kind attention, Thanks to our sign interpreter, and congratulations to you all once again!