Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and a warm welcome to Luanda!
I’m pleased to be here to celebrate the 2023 Cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellows. We’re glad to send off 17 talented young people. Please join me in a round of applause for the diversity of this group!
You are starting a journey that over 5,800 young African leaders have completed since 2014. Over the next six weeks, you will complete a rigorous training course at 28 universities in the United States. You will network with 700 young African leaders from 49 Sub-Saharan countries as well as your American hosts. And you will meet new friends, united with the common goal of improving lives and impacting communities.
U.S. government exchange programs are a key part of our diplomacy in action. Reenergized partnerships require people to people engagement and that is what exchange programs like the Mandela Washington Fellowship do: it moves people, to move ideas.
The Biden Administration is committed to working with the U.S. Congress to provide over $100 million toward YALI to support innovative, young African women and men, to excel and transform your communities. This additional funding will sustain leadership development, increase access to skills training among women and other underrepresented groups, enhance alumni networking, and expand the YALI online platform to ensure lasting connections between alumni and key stakeholders.
When you return home, you will become alumni. As U.S. program alumni, you embody the American spirit of giving back. Fellow Alumni are spurring economic growth and prosperity, strengthening democratic governance, and enhancing peace and security across the continent.
Economist and 2019 alumna, Dalila Menezes, is working hard within the Central Bank of São Tomé and Príncipe influencing the economic activity and monetary policies of that country. She gives back to teens through healthcare education initiatives. Her dedication to motivate and inform inspires young Santomeans to take care of themselves and their communities.
Manuel Bastos’ AXI (ah-shee) Luanda, is a recognizable urban brand. He and his team are pushing the envelope on what “Made in Angola” products can
be. They go beyond sales to promote customer-focused experiences that develop depth of knowledge and appreciation for the art of gin-making. He devotes his time to giving back to the Ilha de Luanda community and providing on the job training for Angolan youth seeking to learn the business environment.
Alda Manuel is an electrical engineer who dedicates her time to working on renewable energy strategies and is one of the vital voices in Angola sharing the benefits and accessibility of solar energy. She doesn’t stop there; she shares her knowledge with the next generation through her volunteer efforts where she supports young women interested in STEM.
Mentorship, volunteering your time, and teaming up with other like-minded individuals are some of the ways you, too, can be force multipliers of change and progress. Upon return you will be eligible for unique funding opportunities to advance your work, and we encourage you to truly consider how you can take your initiatives to the next level. As our alumni know well, we stay connected and enjoy hearing about your future endeavors and success at work in Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Once again, congratulations to the 2023 Mandela Washington Fellow cohort, and I wish you safe travels to the United States of America in June!
Long live the cooperation between the peoples of Angola and Sao Tome e Principe and the people of the United States of America.
Thank you very much.