Africa is endowed with abundant natural and human resources and yet it is the poorest continent on the planet. Various factors may account for this state of affairs but the analysis of most experts on Africa seem to point to one major common denominator: the lack of conscientious and visionary leadership. Since the early days of independence across the continent, African countries have suffered and continue to grapple with the abuses of its leaders. Coming to terms with its leaders disrespect for human dignity amounts to operating a real paradigm shift in the understanding, conception and implementation of power structures across the continent. Africa really needs a new breed of leaders groomed to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The answer to this equation has not been easy and forthcoming, though there are already signs of progressive transitions toward the rule of law. As a way of helping Africa bridge the gap, President Obama launched an important leadership program for Africa in 2010. The new program, known as the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), endeavors to train, 500 visionary and committed young African leaders in 2014 to help spur growth and prosperity of African economies, and build and strengthen democratic governance on the continent.
The Washington Fellowship is a government-sponsored initiative and is calling for applications from prospective candidates from eligible countries across the continent
The program is comprised of four modules:

  • A 6-week Academic and Leadership Institute in U.S. colleges and universities focused on skills development in three main areas: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, or Public Management. Institutes will take place from mid-June to late July 2014.
  • A Summit in late July 2014 with President Obama in Washington, DC at the end of the academic and leadership institute.
  • An optional 8-week U.S. Internship as part of the Fellowship application, individuals may apply to receive practical training at a, civil society organization, or public agency in the United States. Approximately 100 Washington Fellows will be selected for U.S.-based internships. The U.S. internships will take place in August and September 2014.
  • Activities in Africa with continued networking opportunities, ongoing professional development, access to seed funding, and community service activities upon their return home after the Fellowship.

Competition for the Washington Fellowship is based on merit and open to applicants who fulfilled the following criteria:

  • are between the ages of 25 and 35 at the time of application submission, although exceptional applicants younger than 25 will be considered;
  • are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S;
  • are eligible to receive a United States J-1 visa;
  • are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English.

A few hundred young people can make a great difference in Africa; these modules are just one step in an ongoing program. AFJN encourages YALI to do extensive outreach to rural potential applicants, and ensure that the US is not simply funding internships for the sons and daughters of the elite.
Application Deadline – 12:00 Midnight in Washington, DC, Monday January 27, 2014
To apply, open this link
By Barthelemy Bazemo, M.Afr. Policy Analyst