After six weeks of intensive training in public management, twenty five Africans aged between 25 and 35 leave Florida International University. They were at the university as part of an exchange program – Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) – launched by the Obama administration in 2010. Equally important is the fact that the participants come from 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The program participants included public health care workers, agriculture specialists and human rights activists among others.It aims to prepare the future generation of African political and social leaders; one particular reward of the program is that they got to meet the greatest political leader of all time (in my opinion) President Obama.
According to a State Department reports, almost one in three Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and 60% of the continent’s population is below the age of 35. This was the main reason behind the creation of the program to begin with. In Africa one of our biggest challenges is the fact that the youth is very apathetic in what is happening around them: changes in the political system and how to adapt to this change. The main cause of this,in my opinion, comes from the fact that it’s hard to link one individual’s input to change; it’s hard to believe that we can really make a difference. A lot of young African’s feel this way, and this leads to a large chunk of young Africans being completely indifferent about public management.
I for my part welcome programs and fellowships similar to these, it goes without saying that there is a need. However, why is it that African’s must travel all the way to Florida for this training? Yes, I stated earlier that a large majority of the youth do not engage in public management debate and policy setting but, that notwithstanding there are people on the African continent who fully comprehend the African challenges in dealing with public management and these should be the ones to do the teaching. As much as this is a brilliant initiative we need to focus more on keeping African’s in Africa.
Photo Credits: wtsp.com, YALI