DCM Jessica Davis Ba’s Mandela Washington Fellowship PDO Remarks

On behalf of the U.S. Mission to the African Union, I would like to personally congratulate you on being selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow.

While the road each of you took to arrive at this point in your career may vary greatly, we are all united by our shared vision for Africa—an Africa that is integrated, peaceful and prosperous.

This year the US Mission to the African Union is proud to send six Mandela Washington Fellows from the African Union, twice the number that was sent in 2015.

Our 2017 fellows represent five different countries of origin including Ethiopia, Madagascar, Namibia, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

Their work on the continent from advancing human rights, youth empowerment, and good governance is far reaching and inspiring.

With almost 70 percent of Africans under 25 years of age, empowering young people is at the heart of U.S.-Africa relations.

We have witnessed how valuable the voices of youth are in promoting security in the places where they live and work.   In Nigeria, youth engagement was crucial to the interfaith dialogue to stem the violence that hurt their communities.

In Tunisia, youth are providing input to government decisions that foster a more youth-friendly environment to promote entrepreneurship as an antidote to violent extremism and reduce clandestine migration.

In South Africa and Kenya, young people are engaging in peer-to-peer dialogue to dissuade at-risk youth who are vulnerable to the influence of gangs.   Young leaders are tackling the pressing challenges of the day and tomorrow.

We are looking to you all to shape the future of this amazing continent.   As you acquire the skills to build the Africa you believe in, you will have no better partner, no better friend than the United States of America.

In closing, congratulations! I wish you all the greatest success in the United States.