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The future of Angola is in safe hands

Article - July 31, 2014
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was launched in 2010 by President Obama and has been met with enthusiasm in Angola
Angola is a young country with close to two-thirds of the population being under 25 years old. It is also a country now fast-growing and modernizing rapidly after recovering from the effects of a devastating civil war.

Its young people are a generation unique in the country’s history with great opportunities for personal life development but also with responsibilities to carry through this transformation of their nation.

It is therefore not surprising that the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), launched in 2010 by President Obama has been received in Angola with enthusiasm.

YALI aims to empower young Africans through academic coursework, leadership training and networking, with 500 young men and women annually from sub-Saharan Africa selected for their skills, ambitions and personal qualities being offered fellowships to spend time at universities and colleges in the United States.

President Obama has welcomed YALI fellows to the US, saying “we need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen, not only in their own countries but around the world, we have to have a strong, self-reliant and prosperous Africa” and adding “the world needs your talents and your creativity and the United States wants to be your partner”.

YALI aims to empower young Africans through academic coursework, leadership training and networking, with 500 young men and women annually from sub-Saharan Africa selected for their skills
From the 200 young Angolans who applied, six were selected for the 2014 program, to study Public Management, Civic Leadership and Business and Entrepreneurship at leading American institutions.

The Angolan contingent is outstanding, comprising a nuclear physicist, a high-tech guru, a Ministry of Health nurse and educator, a child therapist and volunteer coordinator who works with orphans, an inspiring lawyer committed to combating corruption, and a women’s rights advocate. All six have a commitment to bettering themselves but also to improving lives of others through hands-on involvement.

An example of this commitment is Akiules António, who has a PhD in nuclear physics from the University of Delft in the Netherlands and is a market intelligence manager, leading projects for Halliburton. Akiules and his friends go twice a year to villages in remote areas of the country to teach young people computer skills, mathematics and Portuguese and he says that “the kids don’t become geeks but they see how much fun school can be”. His time in the US under the YALI program was spent at the Ivy League Dartmouth College.

Dizando Mvemba works to promote digital and technology development in Angola, working with young entrepreneurs as well as on a nationwide research program he initiated with the National Center of Technology so that, he says, “with this information, we can then invest in technology and see how we can better develop our country”. He hopes “there will then be tech hubs in Angola to provide a space where more young people can join, learn, practice and start their businesses”. He adds that his time in the US convinced him that “the real solution for the problem of poverty in Africa is education”.

Isabel Bueio is a community human rights activist from Benguela with a degree in Business and Management from the Jean Piaget Institute. She is focused in Angola on women’s empowerment and on combating domestic violence. Isabel’s YALI time was spent at the Presidential Precinct, the consortium of the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia, and her aims for YALI include to “exchange ideas, build a network of contacts with Africans in other countries and learn how to lead people”, besides “meeting the most influential president in the world, Barack Obama”.

The YALI program is a signature program to develop the next generation of African leaders as they spur prosperity and economic and social growth and development in their home countries. Its enthusiastic welcome in Angola demonstrates that young Angolans share that vision and are taking up the challenge.