Obama Introduces New Program for YALI Fellows

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President Barack Obama has announced that beginning in the summer of 2017, fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (Young African Leaders Initiative) will commence their internship program under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in MCC’s host countries.

The internship program, Africa’s Promise, seeks to empower young Africans who have benefited from the YALI fellowship to practically demonstrate their talents in their respective areas of studies in MCC’s host countries.

The host countries include Liberia, Morocco, Malawi, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia.

A dispatch from Washington DC indicated that the interns will support implementation of MCC projects on supply of clean water and electricity, land rights and education.

The new program is also expected to provide opportunities for African youth between the ages of 18 and 35 to gain technical skills to prepare them for the job market.

The Africa’s Promise interns will support large-scale development projects that make up MCC funded programs with focus on reducing poverty through economic growth.

According to the dispatch, interns in MCC host countries will learn best practices on project management, including financial and public management in the local country context, and be exposed to targeted professional development and networking opportunities in both public and private sectors.

“By increasing opportunities for young men and women across Africa to gain important job skills, MCC is supporting and empowering them to build a better tomorrow in their communities,” said MCC Chief Executive Officer, Dana J. Hyde.

Additionally, the MCC Chief Executive Officer said, “For Africa to reach its full potential, it will need experienced public sector leaders who can write the next chapter in Africa’s story.”

MCC forms partnerships with some of the world’s poorest countries, but only those countries committed to good governance, economic freedom and investment in their citizens are eligible for the partnership.

As part of MCC’s criteria for the partnership, a country can be eligible for assistance when MCC’s Board of Directors examines that country’s performance on third party indicators, including government effectiveness, control of corruption, gender in economy and policy performance.

Since its inception in 2010, over 50 Liberians have benefitted from YALI’s six weeks of training at various universities and colleges in the United States.

The training is meant to help young Africans gain knowledge in public sector management, civil and human rights, business management and entrepreneurship, and other fields.

In the past, selected candidates among fellows have remained in the United States for internships to get firsthand experience in how lessons learnt in the program are practiced in that society.

The approach taken under the Millennium Challenge Corporation at this time will now give young Africans the opportunity to practice in their own environments what they have learnt in theory at the Mandela Washington Fellowship (otherwise known as YALI).

President Obama’s second and last term under the US Constitution will end in January of 2017.

The question now is, “What becomes of this important, highly constructive program from which African youths and their continent have benefited so much?”

It may be recalled that a few months ago, former US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield assured that YALI still has a longer lifespan because it came through an Act of Congress just as the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) is.

Ambassador Greenfield at the time said AGOA was inherited from the Clinton Administration and in a like manner YALI will be active in next administration.

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