Gaborone — There is need for the US government to continue supporting young leaders who are determined to make a difference in Africa, says Ms Kali Jones of the American embassy in Gaborone.
Welcoming the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders participants on August 14, Ms Jones said the US government would offer continued support to the young leaders in their home country.
"When I met them I was inspired by their motivation, creativity and vision for Botswana, and how they have significantly impacted their communities," she stated.
Speaking at Gaborone's Masa Square Hotel Ms Jones said both the US government and embassy would continue supporting the fellows through formation of fellowship centers to facilitate networking of ideas.
"We will give them an opportunity to partner with USAID, and they will have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking and training. We will provide support for their ideas, businesses and organisations," she said.
Ms Jones said the 2018 Mandela Washington Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) cohort left for the US June 19 and returned August 4. The 18 fellows, she said, underwent six weeks of academic and leadership training hosted by several top universities where they gained insight into operations of various sectors of the economy.
They also networked with leaders in civil society, government and the private sector, she said.
Ms Jones said they completed their fellowship journey by travelling to Washington DC on a three-day programme where they shared ideas on sustainable community development, project management, diversity and interacted with other fellows from across the African continent.
Also, the fellows closely interacted with university professors and thought leaders in various fields where they had hands-on training in community engagement on issues they were passionate about.
Sharing his experience under the Business and Entrepreneurship track, Mr Mogomotsi France described it as 'overwhelming'.
He said the fellowship enabled him to network with other Africans who added value to his outlook on life.
Mr France said he met other Africans in the financial literacy field who were trying to solve problems similar to his own.
He said he came to the realisation that borders were imaginary, that people were one and encountered the same challenges.
Through his YALI experience and interactions with like-minded youth, he said, he noticed that African people had solutions to Africa's problems hence the need to act now. Further Mr France advanced that when the world was going through agricultural revolution followed by the industrial revolution and information age, Africa lagged behind.
"We are starting at information age and we need to work from here so that we can develop solutions for African problems," he said. Another alumni, Dr Boitumelo Tau said she had the opportunity to network with other fellows on public health adding she was exposed to how effective health sector systems functioned.
"We learnt about running an effective health system. Interacted with health leaders and how we can make use of minimal resources to deliver optimal results," she said.
Moreover, Dr Tau said, they learnt the spirit of volunteerism through helping the homeless.
Dr Tau said this instilled in them a sense of humanitarianism which was necessary for community engagement.
Thus, she said they would continue to work together to harness their potential and continue networking for the benefit of the African continent.
Source : BOPA