The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) has inaugurated the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Centre (RLC) for West Africa.
The RLC, located on the campus of GIMPA, in Accra, would serve countries in West Africa, including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Gambia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Ms Linda Etim, USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Africa, said the centre would bring together the young men and women who were making positive choices, to find solutions to the problems on the continent to maximise their potentials.
She said although these young leaders harnessing technology, building new businesses, starting new organisations and promoting solutions to very important issues – such as the rights of women and girls – were impressive as individuals, they would be even more extraordinary when put together.
“When we collectively provide them with the opportunity to share their talents and perspectives with one another, the sky is going to be the limit,” she said. “Who knows what they’re going to come up with?”
Ms Etim said the Young African Leaders Initiative was providing a platform that would bring young people together to create a new type of learning experience that emphasised tackling challenges together.
Thousands of young Africans had already taken part in the YALI programmes, including the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she said, and the Accra RLC had already trained more than 300 young people from the sub-region.
With the inauguration of the building, which has among other facilities, a library, conferencing facilities, an IT resource centre and offices, it would be able to better serve its participants.
The RLC will also serve as a location for it to connect with the other RLCs on the continent, including one that will be opened in Dakar to serve Francophone West Africa, one in Nairobi for East Africa and the other in Pretoria, South Africa.
“The idea behind all this is to promote a continent-wide information sharing and collaboration to provide a platform for African-based institutions to partner with the private sector, donors, governments and civil society organisations.”
Dr. Christine Amoako-Nuamah, the Chair of the Governing Council of GIMPA, lauded the YALI project initiated by President Barack Obama, who believes that leadership seems to be the bane of the African continent as many countries faced some form of leadership crisis.
She expressed the hope that when the new crop of young leaders being trained by the RLCs took the helm affairs in the future, the West African sub-region would see the needed conducive atmosphere for development.
GIMPA, as part of a consortium comprising the Private Enterprise Federation, Africa 2.0 and others, was awarded the right to establish the West Africa RLC in Accra, under a global alliance cooperative agreement spanning a four-year period from May 15, 2015 to April 30, 2019.
The total budget for the period is $25 million, with the USAID providing $12.5 million, the MasterCard Foundation, $4 million dollars and the remainder funded by GIMPA and its partners.
“The Day marks another milestone in the development of GIMPA,” she said. “It is a day of hope for the future of Africa and a day that will ensure that GIMPA continues to develop leaders for tomorrow,” Dr Amoako-Nuamah said.
Dr. Victor Osei, the Project Director for the Accra RLC, said President Obama’s vision for the YALI programme was to raise leaders that could lift people out of poverty and improve their lives through leadership that was more concerned with service to others than pursuing personal gain.
He said the RLC would soon welcome more than 100 students from the sub-region to train at the centre in GIMPA.
The trainees have the option to specialise in one of three leadership tracks: Entrepreneurship, Civil Society Leadership or Public Policy and Management.
He stressed that based on the RLC’s philosophy in inclusivity, the centre had launched online courses to reach more people and could also provide lessons preloaded on tablets for those who did not have regular access to the internet.
“At the RLC we seek to equip the youth of Africa with the leadership skills necessary to make positive change in their environment, and to do this without regard to gender, economic status or religion or any other attributes that are typically used as anchor points for discrimination in some societies,” he stated.