President Barrack Obama today announced the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the new flagship program of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
Obama made this announcement during a town hall meeting with an audience of dynamic young leaders from South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Beginning in 2014, the program will bring more than 500 young African leaders to the United States each year for leadership training and mentoring.
It will also create unique opportunities in Africa for Fellows to use their new skills to propel economic growth and prosperity, and strengthen democratic institutions.
The Fellowship, according to the first black American president, will:
· Invest in a new generation of young African leaders who are shaping the continent’s future.
· Respond to the strong demand by young African leaders for practical skills that can help them take their work to the next level in the fields of public service and business.
· Deepen partnerships and connections between the United States and Africa.
· Build a prestigious network of young African leaders who are at the forefront of change and innovation in their respective sectors.
Washington Fellows will primarily be between 25 and 35 years old, have a proven track record of leadership in a public, private, or civic organization, and demonstrate a strong commitment to contributing their skills and talents to building and serving their communities.
Despite the protests against the visit of President Barrack Obama to South Africa by coalition of trade unions and civil society groups in the country, the proposed Town Hall Meeting with youths from African countries went ahead as scheduled.
Fielding questions from journalists and young Africans, President Obama blamed the failure of governments on their inability to train the youths in relevant fields.
He said “in terms of human capital and young people, I think the greatest investment any country can make, not just an African country, is educating it’s youth and providing them with the skill to compete in a highly technological, advanced world economy”.
He further said “countries that do not do that well will not succeed”.
He also noted that countries with limited skill will have “problems” in drawing international businesses.
“This is a problem in the United State and not just a problem in Africa,” he added.
He said the U.S. is willing to collaborate with Nigeria to train teachers and incorporate technology in the education system.
“Across board we are having a rethink in education and work force training. And one of the things we want to do is to partner with a country like Nigeria and identify ways that we can provide direct value added, whether it is in helping to train teachers or helping to incorporate technology into the education process”
Obama said they have plans to work with all African countries to empower the youths depending on the plan of the countries.
“There are some excellent plans that sometimes we are doing country by country depending on the country plan. But this is a scenario where I would like to get input from young people in terms of what they think will work”.
Tackling Global Terrorist Cells
He praised his government for making a considerable effort in tackling insecurity and curbing terror with the death of Osama Bin Laden but was quick to recognize the existence of Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt in the progress we have made in dealing with some extremist groups, for example core Al Qaida and Bin Laden” stressing that “they have been greatly diminished”.
He noted that “What is also true is that in some ways the problem has also metastasized, we have more regional terrorist organisations like Boko Haram in Nigeria espousing an extremist ideology, showing no regard for human life”.
He admitted that despite not having a transnational capacity like the other organisations “they are doing great harm in Africa and in the Middle East and in South Asia”.
Obama blamed the upsurge of terrorist groups on the fact that “countries are not delivering for their people and where there sources of conflict and underlining frustrations that have not been adequately dealt with”
To curb such uprisings, Obama said “we have to build institutions a lot of what we talked about in terms of responsiveness, governance and democracy. Those things become defence mechanisms against terrorism, they are the most important defence against terrorism” he said.
He however ruled out military solutions in tackling terrorism but advocated that governments “give people opportunity, education and resolve conflicts through regular democratic processes, the less likely they are to take root”
He charged the African Union to send peace keeping missions to countries that are likely to have such terrorist cells come up and nip them in the bud before they cause harm, adding that “we can provide advice, training and in some cases equipment”.
He said America will like to stand back and sell iPads and planes than remain as a global police, he however warned that America will not “stand by and watch while our embassies are being attacked our people are in vulnerable situations” .
President Goodluck Jonathan has thrown his weight behind strong local government administration saying the third tier of government provides an opportunity for effective service delivery.
Speaking in Kampala, Uganda at the 2013 Commonwealth Local Government Conference, President Jonathan who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Winifred Oyo-Ita, advocated a strong autonomy for local governments to enable them serve the people at the grassroots.
President Jonathan applauded the objectives of the conference which includes poverty eradication, promoting good governance at the local level and improving the living condition of citizens through the provision of basic services and infrastructure.
The Presidents of Uganda, Sri-Lanka and Rwanda who also attended the conference stressed the need for the strengthening of local government administration as a means of achieving sustainable development.
President Goodluck Jonathan has challenged African countries to become globally competitive and begin exporting finished products to the outside world.
President Jonathan said this while speaking to the outgoing Ugandan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Christopher Onyango Aparr, in the Presidential Villa.
President Jonathan said economic growth was necessary for political stability and added that Nigeria was focused on building and strengthening mutually beneficial economic relations with Uganda and Africa.
The President commended Mr. Aparr for sustaining the warm brotherly relations between Nigeria and Uganda, and wished him well in his next post.
Earlier, the outgoing Ugandan High Commissioner thanked President Jonathan for Nigeria’s assistance through the Technical Aid Corps, as well as the strong bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the two countries.
At a different audience, President Jonathan commended Turkey for assisting Nigeria in developing human capacity through the establishment of schools in the country.
The President was speaking to the outgoing Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ali Rifat Koksal.
A video calling for the arrest of the fugitive leader, Joseph Kony, of the Lord’s Resistance Army militia(a group known for kidnapping children and forcing them to work) in Uganda, has swept across the Internet, attracting a wave of support on Twitter and Facebook.
The 30-minute YouTube video was uploaded on the internet via facebook and twitter on Tuesday and so far has been viewed almost 40 million times.
Also,tweets about Kony have become the No. 1 trending topic worldwide on Twitter.
However, the video has drawn mixed reactions from within Uganda, where many civilians distrust the military and government forces are often accused of committing the same atrocities as Kony’s fighters.
On the other hand, Uganda’s armed forces, which have been hunting the fugitive leader for more than two decades, welcomed the film and its massive viewership, saying it would “help us to expose who Kony is.”
Uganda Peoples Defence Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said “I wish that it had come earlier…we are confident that we will finally catch up with Kony soon”
He added he had last seen Kony in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria state in 2007 when the fugitive leader had attended abortive peace talks before disappearing again into the bush.
Kulayigye acknowledged the Ugandan military had only managed to drive Kony out of Ugandan territory after more than two decades of killings and kidnappings by the LRA.
“We should have stopped him, that’s a failure certainly,” he said.