Skip to main content

YALI 10 Summit | Ten Plus Ten: YALI and the United States Look Back, and Ahead, Together

The U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the Wilson Center's Africa Program, hosted the YALI 10 Summit, an all-virtual event, from May 24-28, 2021. Event website access is still open, so please register to access session recordings and content from the Summit. Below is a selection of sessions.


May. 24 – 28, 2021
8:30am – 12:30pm ET


Event website access is still open, so please register to access session recordings and content from the Summit. A selection of 14 sessions are available here.

The U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the Wilson Center's Africa Program, hosted the YALI 10 Summit, an all-virtual event, from May 24-28, 2021.  The YALI 10 Summit highlighted and celebrated the achievements of YALI alumni and Network members and demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa’s youth. 

Africa’s demographic trajectory and the critical role that youth will—and need to—play in securing the continent’s future, led the U.S. government to establish the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in 2010 as its signature initiative for investing in the next generation of African leaders.

Established in 2010, the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the U.S. Government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Over the past decade, YALI grew from 115 young leaders to include more than 24,000 alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship exchange program, four Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) in Africa, and an extensive digital community called the YALI Network with more than 750,000 members. These programs aim to strengthen democratic institutions and good governance, spur economic growth and prosperity, and foster peace and security in Africa. 

The 10th Anniversary Summit’s theme is “Ten Plus Ten: YALI and the United States Look Back, and Ahead, Together.” For the past decade, YALI has played an important role in the efforts of young African leaders to improve the accountability and transparency of government, start their own businesses, and serve their communities. The summit aimed to celebrate 10 years of YALI, strengthen African democracy and governance, expand U.S. trade and investment with the continent, and advance peacebuilding in fragile areas. It also offered a platform for educating American stakeholders on the challenges and opportunities Africa presents in the coming decade and provided YALI alumni with opportunities for skills development and greater exposure to new networks of thinkers and leaders in both Africa and the U.S. The Summit also provided new opportunities for skills development, networking, mentoring, and collaboration, as well as an opportunity for YALI alumni to define a collective vision for their future.

The Summit featured several high-level speakers, policymakers, YALI alumni, and experts from the United States and across Africa. Attendees also included alumni from various YALI programs as well as its vast network.  

Selected Quotes

Day 1

Welcome & Opening Plenary

Mark Green

“After all, [the YALI Alumni] are the fortunate ones. The ones who have been entrusted with the opportunity to build a much brighter future, a future that is more peaceful, a future that doesn’t walk away from challenges like building a greener economy. A future that is more inclusive and respectful of others regardless of their background. A future that harnesses the brainpower of Africa’s youth to create new economic opportunities and wondrous new technologies for the whole world around you. A future that lifts up the human condition and reinforces human dignity.” 

“You can do great things. And this Summit and YALI’s mission can help you get there. So enjoy this time together, enjoy the fellowship, and take every advantage you can. This is your moment, and we’re all cheering you on.” 

Monde Muyangwa

 “Throughout the week, we will be celebrating all of you, with your impact stories. We know there are thousands of these impact stories across the continent. And we hope you will tell those stories, you will share them with us. Because not only do they give us energy, not only do they inspire others. Not only does it make your other YALI alumni feel like they’re not in the trenches by themselves, that there is this army of YALI folks across the continent who are out there doing good work… At the same time, it gives those of us of the older generation much hope in terms of what you are bringing to the continent.” 

“With all of you born on the continent, what I see are young people across the continent, who are embracing that responsibility, who are embracing that obligation, to envision and shape the Africa that you want to see and that you want to leave for the younger generation.” 

Youth, Conflict Management, and Peacebuilding in Africa

Mark Green

“Africa may be the youngest continent in the world, with more than 70% of its population being young people. And yet, young people are too often not at the table when peace and security are being discussed. And their efforts of building peace at the community, national, and regional level are rarely acknowledged in peacebuilding frameworks.” 

 “Africa cannot sustain peace without the active engagements and contributions of her young people.”

Civil Society’s Role in Mitigating Climate Change

Lauren Herzer-Risi

“[The impacts of climate change] are being experienced disproportionately in the communities that have contributed the least to carbon emissions. Nowhere is this more starkly illustrated than on the continent of Africa.” 

“In our response to climate change, there is an opportunity to foster innovation, to form new partnerships, and strategically engage decision makers in new ways. There’s an opportunity to shape a more equitable future, and drive economic growth that is connected to the growth of clean energy.”

Day 2

Main Stage/Plenary

Monde Muyangwa

“Do not let the pushback related to resistance discourage you. Keep fighting. That is how change comes about.” 

“How do we fold [the gender issue] into the educational strategic plan for the way ahead, to make sure that we are not leaving young girls behind? I think that’s part of how we can amplify what youth bring to the table.”

Building Sustainable Civil Society Organizations

Merissa Khurma

“When we report on the results, or the outcome, or the impact, in line with what donors want, we often get stuck in the metrics. How do we measure the work that we’re doing? I think that there’s no better way to measure this work other than the stories of those individuals from communities that have been touched by the work that you do.”

“Understanding how to navigate the whole donor world and how to actually nurture these relationships over time is very important because then you risk donor fatigue. And there is nothing worse than that.” 

Pitching and Business Communication Skills

Linda Roth

“Storytelling is king. There’s so much content now, and how do you really connect with people? You connect with people by storytelling.”

“Make sure you know who you’re trying to reach. Each segment of your audience is going to need a different piece of storytelling content to motivate them to share your ideas, to share your product, to share your research.” 


Hosted By

Africa Program

The Africa Program works to address the most critical issues facing Africa and U.S.-Africa relations, build mutually beneficial U.S.–Africa relations, and enhance knowledge and understanding about Africa in the United States. The Program achieves its mission through in-depth research and analyses, including our blog Africa Up Close, public discussion, working groups, and briefings that bring together policymakers, practitioners, and subject matter experts to analyze and offer practical options for tackling key challenges in Africa and in U.S.-Africa relations.    Read more

Event Feedback