Obama Meets with African Youth Leaders

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to a crowd at Accra airport during his visit to Ghana in 2009. He hosted a townhall meeting at the White House on the first day of the Forum for Young African Leaders. Photo by: Pete Souza / White House

Transparency, employment, rights advocacy and technology are some of the issues on the agenda of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Forum with Young African Leaders.

The meeting, set for Aug. 3-5 in Washington, D.C., will be structured around three themes: good governance, economic opportunity, and youth empowerment, said Judith McHale, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

Some 115 young African leaders from 47 sub-Saharan nations will take part in the event, which will focus beyond “immediate crisis-driven types of engagement” to more strategic, longer-term partnership with the region, according to Michelle Gavin, senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council.

“As has been said, the U.S. Government’s role is one of gathering and convening, it’s of encouraging network among these young African leaders. And it is, as was mentioned before, putting them in contact with young people in this country and enabling them to form lasting partnerships, ability to interact with each other in a way that they haven’t before,” said Maria Otero, undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs.

Obama is set to host Aug. 3 a townhall meeting at the White House for the delegates. Participants are also expected to meet with leaders of the U.S. Congress and take part in leadership and empowerment discussions with the Peace Corps.

Private U.S. firms as well as business and foreign policy federations are also set to host partner events during the three-day forum.

“[W]e reached out to the American private sector to sort of find organizations and entities, both nonprofit and for-profit organizations and entities that were interested in Africa, interested in – either from programs that they wanted to launch there or economic opportunities that they were looking – business opportunities and others,” McHale said.

The Aspen Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, McKinsey & Co., and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy are expected to host these partner events.

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  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.