August 3rd, Washington DC, at the Shoreham Hotel, the president holds a Presidential Summit Town Hall with the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows, members of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is an initiative by the President that was launched in 2010 where Obama held the first town hall meeting that gathered young African leaders from over 50 countries in Washington. At that time, it was to mark the occasion where African leaders gathered at the African Union in Addis Ababa to celebrate 50 years of independence. This move by Obama was a way to mark a significant moment in the continent’s history then but now serves as the most innovative Obama initiative in Africa. According to a Brookings report, that town hall marked the launch of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
Through this initiative, the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) was established by Obama in 2013. A program that allows young African leaders to come to the U.S for six weeks executive leadership training during the summer. This town hall meeting held today was with the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows, the third set of graduates from the MWF who have spent their last four days in Washington to network and build relationships with each other.
The program this year, for the first time brought 1000 fellows from over 50 African countries, an astounding increase from the initially designed goal of 500 young leaders that the program started with. In this town hall, Obama stated that he hopes this initiative continues even after his administration ends and he hopes that the number of fellows can be doubled because over 40,000 applications were received this year.