US to invest $1bn in education, youth programming in Africa …over next two years

The United States (US) government is to invest $1billion in education and youth programming in Africa within the next two years, the US Vice President Kamala Harris,  has announced.

The funds, she said, would allow the country to further its partnership with African academic institutions and the private sector on education and research in science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Addressing the Africa and Diaspora Youth Forum at the ongoing US Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC on Tuesday, she said the investment would also expand the US signature programme for African youth, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Ms Harris, subsequently, launched the next phase of YALI: a new investment of $100 million to expand networking for YALI alumni and connect them with social impact and business investors.

The three-day summit , the second since its inception in 2014,  has convened 49 African leaders, the African Union Commission Chair, business people, civil society organisations and African and diaspora youth leaders with the aim of  solidifying the bond between the US and Africa.

The forum attended by President Akufo-Addo was on the theme “Amplifying Voices; building partnerships that Last”.

Each year, YALI fellows are funded to travel to colleges and universities in the US for six weeks to study either business, civic engagement, or public management while YALI Regional Leadership Centers have been created to provide a similar experience at higher education institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa. 

Currently, more than 640,000 young Africans participate in the YALI network. 

To create more funding opportunities for innovative African youth, Ms Harris said, the US Export-Import Bank would this week sign a new memoranda of understanding with entities in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide more than $1 billion to finance American commercial investment in Africa.

“This, we know and believe, will create jobs and opportunities in various sectors, and in particular, the renewable energy sector, in agriculture, water and sanitation, and infrastructure,” she said.

In addition, Ms Harris said, the African Women’s Trade and Investment Initiative, a new programme would be launched to help women across Africa participate in e-commerce, and access financing and export markets given that lifting up the economic status of women, inure to the benefit of all society.

She said the African Women Entrepreneurship Programme would also be relaunched to provide micro-financing to women to support their ambitions and their aspirations.

She said young people were being supported because they were the lifeline to both the continent and country.

 “Just consider, 60 per cent of the population of Africa is under the age of 25. That is nearly 850 million young people on the continent.  And by 2050, that figure will grow to 1.2 billion people — 1.2 billion young people.

“This represents an enormous potential for the world in terms of economic growth and for social and political progress.  So let us work together to foster the spark of creativity and ingenuity in Africa’s young leaders” he said.

On his part, President Akufo-Addo called on African diaspora to help develop the continent and spur the socioeconomic growth of its people.

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