Young African Leaders Have Hope for Continent

Young African Leaders Have Reason for Hope Washington, DC — Hundreds of people packed a Congressional committee room last week to see a panel of young leaders discuss their ideas for positive change across Africa.

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Congressmember Karen Bass of Africa Subcommittee greets guest at Policy Breakfast on Capitol Hill.

Adwoa Amea Gyambibi, a senior reporter and head of research with the Daily Dispatch newspaper in Ghana, says that she’s been interested in “how the diversity of American views contributes to a dynamic and resilient political system that includes fair elections.”
As one of an Africa Policy Breakfast Series hosted by Representative Karen Bass of California, the standing-room-only event showcased young leaders from a number of countries, including Ghana, Togo and Rwanda. Policy wonks, foreign policy professionals, African ambassadors, students and activists were among those attending.

Manasse Fatonzoun from Togo, is a youth advocate who provides public speaking training and confidence-building to young Togolese. “In Africa,” he said “we focus much more on the present. I’ve learned that America uses the past to inspire a better present and to provide for the future.” To critics who decry Africa’s sometimes slow progress he says, “Democracy is a process. We are on the way. With the new, young generation we are going to move forward.”

But the young African leaders received sustained applause when they made the point that “America has a lot to learn from Africa.” Dialogue with the audience included issues concerning conflict, global health challenges, natural resource management and, in particular, trade versus aid opportunities.

Congresswoman Bass told the gathering that “it’s important to have a dialog with the next generation of leaders from the continent and to support young African leaders as they develop.”

Noluthando Crockett-Ntonga, reporting as Phyllis Crockett, covered the White House for National Public Radio and was based in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 10 years working on development issues.