Engaging the Next Generation of African Leaders

Posted by Judith McHale
May 5, 2011
Students in Johannesburg Classroom

I spent several years in South Africa while I was growing up, and since then, I have frequently traveled to Africa for business as well as personal enjoyment. Each time I return, I am struck by Africa's indomitable spirit -- especially by the energy and enthusiasm of its young people.

Today, I am again on my way to Africa to meet with social innovators, thought leaders and emerging entrepreneurs in South Africa and Senegal. They are part of a thriving network of young Africans who are leading change in their local communities and around the world.

Over the next week, we hope to explore new ways the United States can help support and expand this new generation of African leaders. Whether this means opening up the business environment so that new entrepreneurs and new ideas have the chance to thrive, expanding educational opportunities and partnerships to reach more people, or simply opening the channels of communication to connect students in one country to those in other parts of the world, we are committed to supporting African solutions to Africa's challenges. But we want to find ways to help more people in Africa -- particularly young people, women and traditionally marginalized populations -- access the resources and support they need to achieve their full potential.

For example, we can promote opportunities for young people in Africa to have conversations with their peers in the United States and start a global dialogue around issues of mutual importance. Using new technologies, we can expand intercultural exchanges and find new opportunities for partnership between our universities, institutions and people. With advocacy and investment, we can foster an environment that enables more young people to take a chance on themselves and their dreams.

We want to deepen the ties that weave our young people together using every outlet available to us, from social media to educational exchanges to mentorship programs. Together, we can learn to do things better and smarter for the 21st century.

Andrew Cedar who is traveling with me will be blogging about our trip and the exciting young leaders we meet along the way, so check back for more updates soon.



California, USA
May 6, 2011

Evelyn R. in California writes:

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District Of Columbia, USA
May 6, 2011

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

I am glad to read U.S. officials are engaging young leaders in Africa. This is more important than ever before, just look at the recent events in the Ivory Coast and Sudan.

I look forward to reading more about your trip.

El H.
Wisconsin, USA
May 6, 2011

Hadj in Wisconsin writes:

I think that the cooperation has already started in terms of African Social Entrepreneurs teaming up with their peers in the United States.

We formed a team of Senegalese/American social entrepreneurs in a water development project for Casamance (Southern Senegal)...and it is a very dynamic collaboration rich in technical input and process improvement.

Conducted as a community-led initiative, we have open lines of communications with the rural populations targeted and are learning a lot from failed similar projects from the past through their experience.

I wanted to share this story as an active African social entrepreneur living in the U.S.


Nentawe G.
May 7, 2011

Nentawe G. in Nigeria writes:

Interesting that U.S. is engaging the Next generation of African leaders, traditional they have been marginalize and their voices not heard. Looks like we have a moment and must make the moment count.


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