BreakingNews 23/7/16 - The Next Generation of Young Leaders In Africa Are Born

[ Masterweb Reports: Tessie Nkechi Udegboka reports ] - The Mandela Washington Program staff of the following host institutions, Indiana, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Purdue Universities planned and brought together the 100 Mandela Washington Fellows from the respective universities together for a site visit to SRAM, a bicycle manufacturing company, in Chicago, Illinois.


Surprisingly to all the Fellows, Evan Ryan, the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) was introduced.  She flew in from Washington DC to meet with us, the Fellows, gave a brief remark after which she hopped back on plane back to Washington DC.


Before, 2013, Ms. Ryan served in the White House as Assistant to the Vice President and Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement. In 2005, she was Deputy Chair for the Governance track of the Clinton Global Initiative. Previously served as the Deputy Director of Communications for the John Kerry Presidential Campaign, Director of Scheduling for Hillary Clinton’s Senatorial campaign; and Special Assistant to the First Lady’s Chief of Staff. The Fellows were amazed as young as she looks and had experienced all these top positions.


“I am delighted to be here in Chicago. It’s wonderful to look around and see a room full of bright, accomplished and ambitious young leaders from Africa”, was her welcoming words. She congratulated each of us for been chosen to participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) Program, stating that we were selected because of our leadership skills, our community involvement, and our potential to make a difference when we return home.  


“President Obama has expended and enhanced international exchanges, making them a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. I am proud to say that the Mandela Washinton Fellowship, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, has doubled from 500 to 1000 participants and would continues in 2017. The response to MWF among young African professional has grown since it started in 2014. You were selected from more than 40,000 applications we received this year. You should be very proud to be part of this program.” She said.


Ms Ryan emphasized that President Obama created this initiative to recognize and support the increasingly critical role of African youth in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa. As the government of United States looks toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular. Africa’s economies are among the fastest growing in the world, with technological change sweeping across the continent and offering tremendous opportunities in business, entrepreneurship, technology, energy, and medicine.


The Mandela Washington Fellowship is designed to harness the energy of the rising youth population in Africa who are changing the economies and political systems in profound ways. The Fellowship brings leadership and networking opportunities to thousands of young people across the continent.


She said as the next generation of young leaders in Africa, we have the talent, drive, and capacity to make remarkable contributions to our country’s development. The Department of State constantly hear the amazing things that Fellows are doing after they return home, so she shared two examples – Merab Twashirwa, a MWF from Rwanda, recently won a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to improve access to credit for people in Rwanda by developing a credit scoring system so that digital financial service providers can better estimate risk. Mutoba Ngoma, was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the 2016’s “30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa.” Mutoba, a Business and Entrepreneurship Fellow, started a renewable energy business in 2009 and has since focused on the production and promotion of biodiesel fuel and derivatives of vegetable oils.


Ms Ryan looks forward to hearing about our future success and amazing stories which the Department of States will be highlighting. She reminded us we will be welcomed into the U.S. Bureau’s alumni network, which already has more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 350 current or former heads of state and government.


“So remember, this experience doesn’t end when you go home; stay connected, engaged, and involved with individuals you meet through this fellowship, with the YALI network, the US State Department. Follow me on twitter and continues to share your experiences with each other and with us using the hashtag #MWF2016” she concluded.


Tessie Nkechi Udegboka ( Email: ), one of Mandela Washington Fellows, writes from Northwestern University, Chicago.  


*Photo Caption - Ms. Evan Ryan, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) pose with some of the fellows.

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