Author Archive

Youth Leadership Development Gaining Traction in Senegal

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

On June 18, 2010, Leadership Africa USA announced plans to work with Senegal’s Ministry of Education to distribute more than 100,000 copies of our youth leadership training curriculum to Senegal’s middle schools. The launch was a delightful opportunity to express gratitude to USAID including the USAID/Senegal office and the Africa Education Initiative ; to Senegal’s Ministry of Primary Education including the Academic Inspectorate; and to our local partners, who have all significantly contributed to the development and success of our youth leadership training initiative in Senegal.

Below are excerpts of my remarks from the launch event and you can find USAID/Senegal’s Mission Director, Kevin Mullally’s speech here (in French).

Leadership Africa USA’s vision is to enable the youngest generation of African leaders to overcome the many development challenges confronting post-conflict societies through leadership training and peer-to-peer character building.

Today’s event is a celebration of the youth leadership training initiatives being implemented in Senegal’s Casamance Region by Leadership Africa USA since 2008 and proof the time is now for a revolution in leadership training that focuses on youth, especially girls. Senegal’s Ministry of Education, academic inspectors, principals, teachers, and students have demonstrated their support for this expansion. They have stepped-up and today Senegal is the only Francophone country implementing a leadership training curriculum for middle school students.

This is an important model to expand Africa’s peace dividend. Our leadership training curriculum is positive recognition of the important relationship linking effective leadership to sustainable peace. We believe youth leadership training at an early stage in a child’s development, will empower the next generation of leaders in Africa and our future and Senegal’s future is in their hands tied to the choices and the contributions they make to their communities.

Leadership Africa’s goal and development agenda in Senegal going forward is to expand academic inspector, principal and teacher- training in order to effectively deliver the leadership curriculum in Senegal’s school system.

In closing, we stand by our commitments and I pledge to you that Leadership Africa USA will renew and expand our actions. We understand expressing commitments alone will not achieve results — results require actions and success mandates that Leadership Africa, Senegal’s Ministry of Education, USAID, and our local partners all do our part.

 Rest assured, we will.

Are the tides turning? Africa is finding her growth pulse

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The end of armed conflicts, improved macroeconomic conditions and microeconomic reforms to improve the business climate are some of the key reasons given in a recently published article from McKinsey & Company (sign-up required) 

for Africa’s solid economic performance. Surprisingly, the article points out that the commodities boom is just a partial answer to the Africa’s GDP growth – other sectors such as manufacturing, telecommunications, and transportation have played an equally important role.

The more poignant points of the article (at least with respect to the work we do at Leadership Africa USA) included:

  1. the importance of ‘non-economic’ factors such as conflict resolution in being a contributor to charting Africa’s growth. Our work in conflict-affected environments is premised on that the fact that conflict inhibits development at the social, economic and human levels. Therefore it is of little surprise to us that the end (or marked reduction) of armed conflicts is one factor for Africa’s positive growth progress.
  2. The need to focus on educating the continent’s youth population as this cohort is a primary contributor to the region’s labor force expansion. Making education and skills training a priority will positively impact the probability of long term growth in Africa.

I believe we are experiencing a unique opportunity to make dramatic progress in Africa through quality education and leadership training to help raise living standards especially focusing on African youth (especially girls) – the new generation of change. Leadership training is critical — what do you think?

Building the Youth Leadership Paradigm

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Walker A. Williams

With 44 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population under 15 yrs (visit the Population Reference Bureau for more population data), there is little doubt that Africa’s youth will play a significant role in the region’s economic, social and political prosperity in the years to come. The U.S. administration recognizes the opportunity to be gained by stressing the importance of youth development in Africa. During his trip to Ghana, President Obama encouraged Ghana’s and Africa’s youth to be the force of change they can be.

“You have the power to hold your leaders accountable, and to build institutions that serve the people. You can serve in your communities, and harness your energy and education to create new wealth and build new connections to the world But these things can only be done if all of you take responsibility for your future .” (Remarks by President Obama to the Ghanaian Parliament, July 11, 2009).

 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  during her trip to the Demcratic Republic of the Congo in August of 2009, called for the mobilization of DRC youth, especially girls, to speak out about the challenges, particularly in the areas of corrpition and violence, of DRC.  She called for the students to “write a new chapter in Congolese history”. Here at Leadership Africa USA, we recognize the importance of calling upon the younger generations to promote effective leadership abilities that can inspire change within a nation.

Leadership Africa USA’s mission is compatible with the U.S. Administration’s emerging Africa policy through our youth leadership programs in several African countries to empower African youth through leadership training; promote skills transfer; support peer-to-peer outreach; and implement proven character building exercises.

 I believe inspired African leadership is key to Africa’s sustainable development in this global economy in order to solve the poverty equation impacting African people.  Effective leadership training is empowerment.

 Leadership Africa USA recognizes that the Africa’s future is dependent on cultivating positive and effective leadership among today’s African youth. As such, we partner with African educators and government officials to promote middle school leadership training.   Our emphasis on always working with our African counterparts stems from our view that “Made in America” doesn’t work in 21st Century Africa.

 Going forward, my goal is to develop creative ways to increase the delivery of leadership training with additional strategic partners and appropriate use of new technology. Youth leadership training should be a more focused initiative of U.S. and African policy if we are to deliver on the promise of accessible quality education for Africa’s children, especially girls.