Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Breakfast
Residence of the U.S. Special Representative for Somalia
Friday, May 16, 2014
Good morning everyone.
I am pleased and honored to host each of you at this breakfast meal and discussion at my residence. You are most welcome.
I would like to congratulate each of you on your selection to participate in the 2015 Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders — the second year of the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, otherwise known as “YALI.” As you undoubtedly know by now, this prestigious program involves a highly-competitive selection process with hundreds of applicants applying for each position. You have every reason to be proud of this accomplishment.
YALI forms a key component of President Obama’s commitment to invest in the future of Africa. The U.S. Government created this special program out of recognition of the critical and increasing role that young Africans play in strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa.
I am confident that you will find this Fellowship to be a rigorous but rewarding professional development program.
Indeed, this program provides a significant opportunity to each of you to represent your country as “ambassadors of Somalia” — maybe I should say Special Representatives — not just to the Americans whom you will meet and engage with during your time in the United States, but also to the other participants, not to mention President Obama.
The Washington Fellowship provides an opportunity to study at a U.S. institution of higher education and to interact with U.S. leaders in the fields of business, government, and the non-profit sector. I notice that three of you have chosen the “civic leadership” track and one the “public management” track.
Upon completion of the U.S.-based part of the program, you will continue your Fellowship in Somalia, where you will serve as mentors to other young Somalis, enjoy access to ongoing professional development and networking opportunities, and possess the option to compete for “seed” funding to support a follow-on initiative.
I am proud and hopeful that your commitment, courage, and attitude will lead Somalia and the rest of the continent into a new age of prosperity as your country takes its rightful place on the world stage.
On behalf of the Government and people of the United States of America, I congratulate you again on your selection for this highly-competitive and worthwhile program.
And now, I would ask that each of you introduce yourselves and open the floor to discussion.
Please also enjoy your breakfast meal.