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US Announces Funding for African Youth, Women

Vice President Kamala Harris waves after speaking to the African Diaspora Young Leaders Forum, in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.
Vice President Kamala Harris waves after speaking to the African Diaspora Young Leaders Forum, in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday announced a new $100 million investment into the Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI) program and the launching of an Africa women trade investment initiative.

"We are focused on working with the countries of Africa to address current challenges as well as to promote long-term growth and innovation," Vice President Harris said during her speech at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit's African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum.

She said the investment would continue to foster ingenuity and creativity among the YALI participants and other young leaders in Africa.

The YALI investment is set to expand networking for alumni connecting them with social impact and business investors, also targeting the YALI Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) currently located at higher education institutions throughout Africa - in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Senegal.

"These young leaders, the majority of whom were born in the 21st century, are coming of age on a continent with a vibrant spirit of entrepreneurship," said Harris.

According to Harris, the Biden administration expects to invest more than $1 billion over the next two years in education and youth programming in Africa, allowing the U.S. further its partnerships with academic institutions and the private sector.

First launched in 2014 under former U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden, over 5,000 young Africans aged 25-35 have participated in the program which provides academic and leadership training.

The African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum was held under the theme of "Amplifying Voices: Building Partnerships that Last."

Harris also announced the other initiatives during her speech, including the launch of an Africa Women’s Trade and Investment Initiative. The initiative is set to help women across Africa participate in e-commerce, access capital and export markets.

She also announced a new memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Export Import Bank and entities in sub-Saharan Africa to provide more than $1 billion dollars to finance American commercial investments in Africa.

"We know that when we invest in populations that have the incredible capacity of these young leaders, they also take it as part of their personal responsibility to build a legacy so others can follow," Harris said.

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken citing the impact of the YALI program, said the U.S. will announce additional investments over the next few days to make it easier for students to take part in exchange programs between the two continents.

"Each of these investments is guided by one overarching goal: to continue building our partnership so that we can better address the shared challenges we face. And ultimately, we can build a safer, more secure, more prosperous future for all of us," he said.

These announcements came as the United States on Tuesday pledged $55 billion to Africa over the next three years.

50 African leaders and other African stakeholders are currently in Washington for the second U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit convened by President Biden. The summit ends December 15.