The Mandela Washington Fellowship of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), a programme by the United States government is a great opportunity for all young leaders who believe in Africa and are taking steps in their own small way to develop the continent.
This is according to Josephine Marie Godwyll, who is among 41 young leaders representing Ghana at the ongoing 2016 YALI programme in the United States, which aims to invest in the next generation African leaders.
“So far, I have had an amazing experience. I have learned so much about the African continent during these few weeks. Getting exposure to citizens from different countries has changed and broken so many stereotypes and has guided me to see Africa as a united front.
“Yes, we have problems, but I have realized that these problems have served as a common ground for sharing, learning and resolving to lead change,” says the 2015 co-winner of Tigo Digital Change-maker competition and Founder of ‘Young At Heart’, an organization that empowers children with practical Information Communications Technology (ICT) skills of programming, robotics and digital art, among others.
Being introduced to top leaders in American businesses, institutions and social enterprises such as Sedona, City of Peace, and Habitat for Humanity, among others, the 27-year-old trained Geomatic Engineer explained that the academic sessions are a mixture of discussions and tasks which allow participants to learn from the US organisations.
After the six-week Mandela Washington Fellowship, she hopes to leverage on the YALI network to empower the next generation of digital innovators in Africa.
She notes that Tigo Digital Change-makers competition has enhance her potential as a leader. “The financial support and professional development activities has been amazing, and I am grateful Tigo Ghana and Reach for Change.”
She believes the youth can lead change to spur growth and prosperity in Africa saying: “The problems that threaten you could be the key to unlocking your potential. Instead of complaining, ask yourself how you can be part of fostering a solution, then look for like-minded people who also yearn to foster change.
“Together with other young volunteers from Young At Heart Ghana the problem of digital illiteracy and utilisation among Ghanaian children is getting solved one community at a time. You can be that change as well.”
Launched by the US President Barack Obama in 2010, YALI brings together over 500 young leaders from sub-Saharan African countries to the United States.
The fellows, who are between 25 and 35 years of age, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organisations, communities, and countries. They come from different sectors of entrepreneurship like energy, security, media and art.
Nearly 1 in 3 Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24. Around 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35. The programme is a long-term effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders and strengthen partnerships between the United States and Africa.
The programme is six weeks long and consists of leadership training, networking, and mentoring at 20 U.S. universities and colleges. It focuses on three areas – business and entrepreneurship, civic engagement and public administration.
From August 1 to 3, participants will assemble in Washington, D.C., for a Presidential Summit convened by President Obama.