Nairobi — 44 young African leaders have been urged to change the face of entrepreneurship and leadership in Africa.
The youths drawn from Kenya and South Sudan to participate in this year's Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Washington Fellowship are due to leave the country in June.
Outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said the Washington-based programme gives young Africans an opportunity to visit America and develop new skills to use in defining the future of Africa.
"We are excited to take these young leaders to the United States but more importantly, are excited about the energy, creativity, and drive they will bring back to Kenya after the fellowship," he said during at his residence in Nairobi on Wednesday.
"I am sure that this programme has a bright future because it is having an impact. I am very grateful that we are able to do it and I look forward to the programme continuing."
Karen Langat, a nurse midwife at the Moi Referral Hospital in Eldoret who is among the successful applicants said she hopes to take advantage of the opportunity that is geared towards connecting young African leaders with resources from the US Government.
She indicated that the experimental field trips are part of measures to build the can-do attitude in the emerging leaders and challenge them to venture into different sectors to change the face of entrepreneurship in Africa.
"We are not going to the US as students, we are going as experts in our own right because we are professionals. We are business owners, are civil leaders. So we are going there also leaders. It is only that we are going to bounce ideas off each other and learn from each other. So I think it will be an awesome experience," stated Langat, who specializes in obstetrics and gynaecology.
AMREF Health Youth Advocacy co-ordinator Peter Ngure and Sophia Nkatha from Tharaka Nthi said encouraged young African leaders to join the network, which is an opportunity to build relationship through the US into a network of young people across Africa.
"Community and grassroots organisation up to now has been a big pillar in American development and I would like to learn a little bit of that and bring that experience to my county, Laikipia and Kenya," stated Ngure, who is running a project aimed at building the capacity among the young people to be able to engage their county governments in matters gender and reproductive health.
"I am the first Mandela Washington Fellow from my county, I am very excited. I want to mentor other women in my Tharaka-Nithi County to apply for this programme so that we can continue with the work of empowering young women in my community," Nkatha who has also been placed to study civil leadership.
Anti-FGM crusader Nice Nailantei, who was named TIME's 100 Most Influential People, is among alumni of the programme which was launched by former President Barrack Obama.
YALI is a US government signature to invest in the next generation of African leaders by providing them with leadership training and on the field experience to support young African leaders to spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance and enhance peace and security across Africa.