US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says she is positive that the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) otherwise referred to as Mandela Washington Fellowship, will continue beyond President Barack Obama’s administration.
During a press conference at the US Embassy Library in Monrovia yesterday, Ambassador Greenfield said YALI came into existence by legislation and funding is available for its continuance. She said just as other programs have survived after former US Presidents, she is confident that
YALI will continue to exist and help train young Africans to become productive people on their continent.
President Obama’s tenure comes to an end early January of next year following the US presidential elections in November of this year.
He established the YALI program in 2010 to provide young Africans with the opportunity to travel to the United States for six weeks of intensive training in various occupations including Governance, Public Sector Management, and Entrepreneurship.
Although Ambassador Greenfield said she cannot speak for the next administration that will take over from President Obama, she recounted that the Peace Corps program was founded during the administration of John F. Kennedy by legislation and has continued to the present.
Another example she gave is the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) which came into existence during the administration of President Bill Clinton, and has survived up to present.
Currently 36 Liberians have benefited from the YALI program. A group of 25 Liberian recruits for 2017 are about to depart next month to join their counterparts from other African nations to undergo six weeks of intensive training at various universities in the United States with the objective of returning to make positive impacts on their countries of origin.
Applauding the recruits at a reception organized by the US Embassy in Monrovia, Ambassador Greenfield said “You are the best selected among the best, and my expectations of you are high because I know, without you Liberia does not have a future.”
She told the new recruits that “When you make mistakes, you will see Linda over your shoulders telling you, ‘no, no, no, we have to make you move Liberia forward,’ and so the training will be very intense.”
The reception was attended by several government officials including Commerce Minister Axel Addy, Education Minister George Werner, and Wheatonia Dickson-Barnes of the Justice Ministry.
Others were University of Liberia professors, Weade Kobbah-Wureh and Roland Massaquoi, and the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute Director, Dr. Augustine Konneh.