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Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) 10th Anniversary

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. In 2021, the U.S. government hosted the 10th anniversary celebration of YALI through a series of events and activities, including the YALI 10 Virtual Summit (May 24-28, 2021) and the #YALI4Ag Livestream (August 12, 2021).

Co-hosted by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of African Affairs and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the YALI 10th anniversary celebration showcased YALI Network members and alumni achievements, and engaged in solutions-oriented and empowering discussions centered on four major themes:

  • The transformative power, innovation and resilience of the African youth;
  • Propelling Africa forward through servant leadership;
  • Strengthening relations between the United States and Africa; and
  • Setting a vision for YALI for the next 10 years.

Summit activities offered opportunities for skills development and exposure to new networks of thinkers and
leaders in both the United States and Africa, and provided a platform to inform American stakeholders on the
challenges and opportunities that Africa presents in the coming decade. The YALI Advisory Committee played
a central role in ensuring that YALI alumni and Africa’s youth had a primary voice in shaping the YALI 10th
Anniversary Program. 

Over 5,000 participants, representing at least 75 countries, attended the YALI 10 Summit daily over
the course of 5 days. Another 921 participants representing at least 38 countries attended the #YALI4Ag
Livestream. Discussions were engaging, networking robust, and the cultural content reinforcing of YALI
discussions and objectives, while also being entertaining.

The YALI 10th Anniversary Program consisted of two main components: the YALI 10 Summit under the theme
“Ten Plus Ten: YALI and the United States Look Back, and Ahead, Together” held from May 24-28, 2021 and
“#YALI4Ag: Youth Innovating for Resilient Agriculture Livestream—An UN International Youth Day event”, held
on August 12, 2021. Both events centered on and highlighted YALI’s three tracks:
Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Engagement, and Public Management.


  • The YALI 10th Anniversary Commemorative Book and the YALI 10th Anniversary Competition Book were produced to memorialize this momentous milestone. The Commemorative Book encompasses all of the anniversary’s events and activities including snapshots of keynote speeches, sessions, and content and highlights anniversary participants, speakers, entertainers, and cultural content providers. The Competition Book is a collection of the poems and stories from YALI alumni sharing how YALI transformed and enhanced their professional development as young African leaders.

    • The YALI 10th Anniversary Commemorative Book available to read or download here in the following languages:
    • English
    • French
    • Portuguese
    • The YALI 10th Anniversary Competition Book available to read or download here in the following languages:
    • English
    • French
  • This milestone event celebrated 10 years of YALI and looked ahead to the next 10 years of the initiative. The Summit convened YALI alumni and Network members, U.S. and African policymakers, and subject matter experts and stakeholders to celebrate YALI’s accomplishments, discuss many of the most pressing governance, development, and security issues facing Africa, leverage the transformation and opportunities offered by the continent, while strengthening U.S.-Africa relations, and the bonds of collaboration among Africa’s youth across countries, regions, communities and sectors.

    Learn more here.

  • To celebrate a decade of YALI change-makers and their achievements, YALI alumni and active Network
    members who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership in their communities were encouraged to
    participate in the competition by submitting entries (in written, video, audio, or multimedia format) that
    described or demonstrated how YALI has impacted their personal and professional development, and how
    they have made a difference in their communities and around the world. The competition was open to
    individuals or alumni groups, and entries were required to correspond to one of YALI’s three curriculum tracks
    (or across multiple tracks for group submissions).

    Competition Winners: A total of 185 entries from 38 countries were received, including 81 essays/poems,
    28 videos, 11 multimedia entries, and 10 photography submissions. A committee reviewed the entries and
    selected 15 winners who were announced and showcased at the YALI 10th anniversary summit. The third place
    winner was 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow Ms. Hyasintha Ntuyeko, and the second-place winner
    was 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow Mr. Uche Kenneth Udekwe. Dr. Chidzani Mbenge, a 2019 Mandela
    Washington Fellow, was selected as the competition’s first-place winner for her poem entitled "The Shy Girl Who Refuses to Die Shy". 

  • To capture the impact of YALI, a diversity of YALI alumni, Network members, U.S. and African officials, YALI stakeholders and partners, and YALI Advisory Council members recorded short impact statements responding to one of three questions: how has YALI impacted your life, community, and the world; what does YALI mean to U.S.-Africa relations; and what do you envision for the next 10 years of YALI? The impact statements were played throughout the summit.

  • Having successfully reached its 10th birthday, the last day of the Summit focused on crafting a vision of the next 10 years of YALI. Participants convened in three breakout sessions: business and entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and public management to discuss “The Next 10 Years of YALI: A Vision for YALI’s Future”.

    The Vision for the Future of YALI videos can be found on the Wilson Center's YALI 10 Summit playlist here.

  • The YALI 10 Summit Expo provided an interactive forum for African, U.S., and international civil society, public, and private organizations representing a variety of sectors, to engage with Summit participants and foster engagement, partnerships, and actionable connections between the United States and Africa.

    To view the YALI Expo vendor list, click here.

  • To facilitate networking and connections among the participants, virtual Networking Rooms and Lounges were open throughout the summit. Over the course of the 5-day summit 2,617 connections were made through the Networking features (an average of over 3 per attendee), and there was an average of 64 attendees per lounge. In the Networking Rooms, participants were matched with fellow attendees, based on interests indicated during registration, for 3-minute networking sessions. In the Networking Lounges, participants could select which Lounge to join based on their interests.

    We are extremely thankful to our YALI 10th Anniversary Committee members and everyone who led discussions, formed connections, and participated in this virtual activity.

    Lounges were hosted the following topics and groups:
    • Regional Leadership Center East Africa
    • Regional Leadership Center Southern Africa
    • Regional Leadership Center West Africa Accra
    • Regional Leadership Center West Africa Dakar
    • Mandela Washington Fellows Alumni Group
    • Francophone Countries
    • Lusophone Countries
    • Business and Entrepreneurship
    • Civic Engagement
    • Public Management
    • YALI Alumni in Media
    • YALI Creatives
    • Intellectual Property Rights as a Driver of Socioeconomic Growth in Africa

  • Agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s economic development goals and is central to achieving food security. The YALI 10 event focused on agriculture’s pivotal role in meeting Africa’s economic development goals and achieving food security for its citizens, and the role of Africa’s youth, including YALI, in achieving this goal.

    For more information and to watch the livestream click here.