The U.S. Mission in Nigeria last week organized a reunion conference and welcome reception for the 2022 Mandela Washington fellows selected to participate in a six-week leadership program studying Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management at U.S. colleges and universities.
This year, 55 young Nigerians participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) program, which provided participants the opportunity to meet and interact with other young leaders across the globe and engage in high-level workshops with U.S. government officials, and representatives of businesses and organizations with interest in Africa.
Delivering remarks at the reception, which was held in Lagos, U.S. Consul General Will Stevens stated that Africa’s future rests in the hands of extraordinary young African leaders who are committed to pursuing and achieving their dreams.
“The U.S. government is committed to supporting extraordinary young leaders to achieve their dreams and it is remarkable to see that the Mandela Washington Fellowship program is impacting communities through the outstanding and inspiring contributions of more than 24,000 alumni,” Stevens said.
He noted that the outstanding contributions of some YALI alumni such as Grace Jerry, founder of the Inclusive Friends Association; Nkem Okocha, founder of the MamaMoni Empowerment Foundation; and Orondaam Otto, founder of Slum2School Africa, has helped improve lives of visually challenged persons, women, and disadvantaged children in remote communities.
The Consul General urged the new fellows to continue working on critical issues that will impact the lives of fellow Nigerians, which includes promoting entrepreneurship and education, supporting democratic governance, and building a strong civil society.
“As the new fellows take their place as part of the YALI generation, we look forward to learning about their inspiring work in Nigeria and effort to solve climate crises and build a sustainable, inclusive global economy that will shape Nigeria’s future,” Consul General Stevens said.
Established in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship exchange program of the U.S. government-sponsored Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) created to further the United States’ commitment to investing in the future of Africa. Each year, U.S. Missions across Sub-Saharan Africa select accomplished leaders, who have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their countries.
Since the establishment of the program, about 511 Nigerians have participated in the program out of a total of 5,800 young leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria remains the largest contributor of Fellows each year.