Obama to Host White House Forum with Young African Leaders

Above: President Obama will convene a forum at the White
House next month with 120 young leaders from Africa and
their counterparts from the United States. – (Pete Souza)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, July 22, 2010

New York (Tadias) – President Barack Obama is set to play host to a large contingent of young African business and community leaders next month for a White House initiated effort to foster stronger partnerships in the years ahead.

Nearly 120 young leaders from civil society and the private sector representing more than 40 African countries will gather in Washington for a three-day conference scheduled to take place from August 3rd to August 5th, 2010.

“Together with American counterparts and U.S. government officials, the participants will share their insights on key themes of youth empowerment, good governance, and economic opportunity,” the White House said in a statement. “President Obama will host a town hall meeting at the White House with these young leaders to discuss their vision for transforming their societies over the next fifty years.”

According to the White House: “The President’s Forum with Young African Leaders presents the U.S. government and American friends of Africa with an opportunity to deepen and broaden our understanding of the trajectories of African societies, and to reflect on how the next generation are building their communities’ and their nations’ futures – just as their predecessors did in the era of independence from colonial rule. In addition to the town hall meeting with the President, the forum will include small-group discussions on topics such as transparency and accountability, job creation and entrepreneurship, rights advocacy, and the use of technology to empower individuals and communities. African participants will have an opportunity to meet with grassroots service organizations to share experiences and strategies.”

The administration hopes the event will also serve as a networking opportunity between the African leaders and their American counterparts. “The U.S. government’s role in this gathering is as a convener, encouraging networks between young American and African leaders, and pursuing lasting partnerships on behalf of our common security and prosperity,” the statement added. “This dialogue and follow-up events in Africa will help the U.S. government better assess how to support Africa’s own aspirations going forward.”

Four Ethiopians To Participate in the Forum

With U.S. Ambassador Donald E. Booth

Per the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, the
following four young leaders will represent
Ethiopia at the upcoming White House forum.

Mahlet Eyassu Melkie, 29, Climate Change Activist
Meron Getnet Hailegiorgis, 27, Author
Salsawit Tsega Ketema, 30, Founder, Sel Art Gallery
Yohannes Mezgebe Abay, 35, Vice President, Pan African Youth Union

Cover Image: President Barack Obama listens during a meeting with residents at Carmandelle’s Live Bait and Boiled Seafood in Grand Isle, La., June 4, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Related from Tadias Magazine:
On the South Lawn of the White House (By Ayele Bekerie)

Video: Obama’s Message To Africa during his 2009 visit to Ghana

24 Responses to “Obama to Host White House Forum with Young African Leaders”

  1. 1 Ethio-American Jul 22nd, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Well done. Great way to engage young Africans business leaders with their Diaspora counterparts! Very positive development! Good job Obama!

  2. 2 Tekeste Jul 22nd, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Fiscal responsibility is not Obama’s forte so perhaps he could bring some i-pod for them to play with. The Africans can give him a lesson on telling the truth. And Let’s hope that this will be an accurate representation of Africa, where half of the population is Arab and a sizable population of Africa is white in the south Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, etc, Africa does not only belong to blacks. Thank you.

  3. 3 Zelalem A. Kebede Jul 22nd, 2010 at 11:36 am

    This is an excellent initiative to empower the next generation of African leaders with basic democratic values in good governance and economic opportunity for their fellow citizens. Continued and aggressive engagement of this type may indeed bring an end to the vicious cycle of Africa’s worst enemy: one holding complete autocratic control and one ruling absolutely and often oppressively. That’s the single biggest and powerful enemy the good people of Africa face today. I sure hope President Obama will use this opportunity and his bully-pulpit to shine-light on this nemesis – those who inflict indignation on their own people and sleep at night with their evil deeds and undeserved good fortune in their capitols across the continent of Africa.

  4. 4 Tazabi Jul 22nd, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    To Teskte and Zelalem:

    Your comments would make more sense if you post it on Glenn Beck’s website.

  5. 5 Jember Solomon Jul 22nd, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Why even bring up Glen beck? Glen Beck hates President Bam. The dude has no interest in Africa what soever man. The way I see it is that I smell Bam getting ready for the 2012 congressional election! He is coming after the African immigrant and African-american vote.

    We got a very smart President, ha? Yeah, were were you for the last 18-months Mr President? What have you done for me lately?

  6. 6 Ethiopian Mama for Obama Jul 22nd, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Regardless of your opinion of President Obama I urge you to see the positive impact that OUR African-American president would have on these young leaders. And to give credit where it is due. I applaud your vision President Obama, and your ability to address present concerns while maintaining your eye on the future of the world at large.

    Ethiopian mama for Obama

  7. 7 enligioto Jul 22nd, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Give him a break. He is doing the best he can under all the circumstances. This conference is necessary for the long term security and economic interest of our two peoples. Go Obama!!!

  8. 8 Ye Oak Town Lij Jul 22nd, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    First of all, let’s get something out of the way: PREZ OBAMA IS THE MAN!!!!

    Jember: Do you think if McCaine and Sara Palin were in charge of the U.S. government, this submit would take place? I think not. You asked Obama: “what have you done for me lately?” Well, he is doing something for you now.

    I agree with Ethiopian-Mama, people need to take a chill pill when it comes to this President. Every Dick, Jane and Harry from Africa to Aisa feel Obama owes them something. He may be the most powerful man on the planet, but he can only do so much and he certainly can not satisfy everyone’s appetite. That’s an impossible thing to do. But this upcoming forum with young African leaders from the civil societies and the private sector is a great and progressive program. Go for it U.S.A!

  9. 9 ose Jul 22nd, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I have never been optimistic of ideas coming from politicians, especially right before election.

  10. 10 Bergude Jul 22nd, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    To me the meeting sounds complex. Africa is a continent with multiple cultures and many problems. I am sure the participants will gain fruitful ideas from the forum hosted by President Obama. However, in Amharic language there is a saying, “The harvest will be ready for next year; I am hungry right now.” Leaving aside politics, the African core problem is hunger, malnutrition, diseases and poverty, which (seem to persist) generation after generation for centuries. I hope the participants from Africa with their American counterparts will put into consideration how to eradicate poverty from Africa.

  11. 11 ME ABESHA DOMENICAN AMERICANO Jul 23rd, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Bergude neglected one big problem. Africa’s crazy dictators!

    Africa has and continues to have its share of dangerous and sometimes crazy dictators. A good example is Idi Amin Dada, a former British army lieutenant who subsequently styled himself as “His Excellency President for Life Field Marshal Al Hadji Dr. Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”. Then there was also Mobutu of Congo, who forced all television news channels to precede the evening news by an image of him descending through clouds from the heavens. Central African Republic boasted the “emperor” Jean Bedel Bokassa, who it’s rumoured ate the human flesh of his victims. But perhaps, the scariest of them all is Robert Mugabe, who terrorizes Zimbabwe to this very day. Have your say on which African dictator made the most impact, here: http://www.pollsb.com/polls/poll/2036/choose-your-all-time-favorite-crazy-african-dictator

  12. 12 Abnet for Obama Jul 23rd, 2010 at 4:20 am

    I am one of those people that worked hard to elect Obama President. Unlike some people, I am not disappointed at all. I think he is doing a tremendous job as President. I mean when the guy took over only 18-months ago, America was literally broke – like no money in the bank. Obama first had to guide the sinking ship back to dry land to fix the sucker before it goes back to sea again, all the while enduring the most hostile, undisciplined and disrespectful opposition in history. I too agree with Ethiopian-Mama that we should give credit where it is due. Here are some examples of what CHANGE looks like.

    Change Index by AOL NEWS: Obama’s 5 Most Far-Reaching Accomplishments to Date

    1. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Health Care Reform)

    Of all of the legislation to pass Obama’s desk, no single law engendered as much controversy, nor represented a greater parting with past norms, than health care reform. Signed on March 23, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was meant to expand access to health insurance to millions of Americans. The law mandates that all Americans buy into an insurance pool, and prevents insurers from rejecting patients with pre-existing conditions. Whether the law ultimately has the desired effect of improving overall access and affordability of health care in America, the system itself is poised for an overhaul.

    2. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Financial Reform)

    As Obama touted Tuesday, the new law signals an end to government bailouts of the financial sector. Now, tighter government oversight will, allegedly, keep a closer eye on Wall Street, and will have the power to simply shut down failing institutions before they threaten to topple the U.S. economy. In addition, new consumer protections that include a cap on fees charged by banks will soon take effect.

    3. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Package)

    The so-called stimulus package that Obama signed into law on Feb. 17, 2009, allocated $113.5 billion for the development of alternative energy sources, new forms of mass transit and the retrofitting of buildings to become more energy efficient. Perhaps more than any other aspect of the $789 billion package, the focus on modernization signaled an attempt at nudging the country to a new economic model. The package also significantly added to the national debt.

    4. Credit Card Reform Act

    Signed on May 21, 2009, the law signaled the Obama administration’s willingness to directly take on banks and credit card companies. It imposed consumer protection restrictions on interest rate and fee hikes. In addition, it limits the kind of marketing credit card companies and banks make to students.

    5. Troop Surge in Afghanistan

    As he promised as a candidate, Obama has sharply drawn down the number of soldiers fighting in Iraq, while increasing the number sent to Afghanistan. On May 27, Congress voted to fund Obama’s surge to the latter country. While the Afghan war has been under increasing criticism from members of both political parties, the shift of focus has brought with it a host of consequences.

    These are major things that Obama said during the 2008 campaign that he wanted to deliver. Deliver he did!

  13. 13 MAKUZA Jul 23rd, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Obama should help Africans especially the people of DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi by demanding democratic space in Rwanda and also to bring the criminals to the Hague for Human rights atrocities that has been committed in both Rwanda and DRC. I hope all Congolese in the meeting will be bold and brave enough to point out the USA’s involvement in miseries in the region.

  14. 14 mesfin Jul 23rd, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Another PR stunt. The US is only concerned about its self interest and will do whatever it can to remain super-power. See the policies towards Iraq, Afganistan and the level of financial, political and diplomatic support to dictators and child killers in Africa.

  15. 15 sarah Jul 23rd, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I was a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia and worked as a teacher in Ghana for four years. I think President Obama’s initiative to engage young African leaders is done in the best American tradition of engaging other nations based on genuine friendship, commerce and mutual security. Whatever your opinion maybe of the President’s political inclinations, this is a program that needs to be fully supported. In order for it to be fully successful, however, it must be followed-up both here in the United States and in Africa with many additional forum’s conferences and a massive exchange program in education, healthcare, science, etc. I do sincerely believe that President Obama’s unique historical role not only as the first African-American president, but also as a son of an African immigrant (his Kenyan father was a student in Hawaii where he met Obama’s mother and later earned his PH.D from Harvard University before returning home to East Africa), has the real potential to positively transform the relationship between the United States and Africa.

  16. 16 Bergude Jul 23rd, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Anyone who is familiar with Africa cannot ignore the political situation there. The dictatorship of leaders which they put themselves on top of the law and people; the autocracy, the injustice, the embezzlement, the bureaucracy and corruption, the list will go on. In my opinion, right now give priority to poverty and then get into struggle to achieve democracy.

  17. 17 Afro Harlem Chic Jul 23rd, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Abesha Domenican, the link you sent to the dictators website is deliriously hilarious papa :-) :-) :-) I like you. you’re funny. i wish people’s life’s were not involved so i CAN laugh without guilt. so what do these a-holes eat to become monsters like that? Please don’t say Tire siga (red meat). my mom says that can clog your brain if you eat too much of the choma (fat). Anyways for me they are lunatics. Urban dictionary defines lunatic as a reckless or psychopathic individual. Derived from ‘Lunar’ which in turn is derived from the Latin word for ‘Moon’. It used to be popular belief that insane and psychologically disturbed people had been effected by the phases of the moon, thus moron.

  18. 18 Jember Solomon Jul 23rd, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Ye Oak Town Lij,

    I have not worked since Obama was elected. I am not saying that it is his fault, but things are not moving quick enough for me. But trust me I am very sympathetic to Obama. I too campaigned for him in the sun, in the rain, in the snow. My memory of Pennsylvania while going door to door: “Get off my damn property before I call the cops”. That was scary. But the day he was elected – I just froze. I could not believe my ears and my eyes when they kept saying President-elect Obama. I was just in total shock. And finally when it hit me that it is indeed real then I cried, cried and cried. It was not really about him per se but what he represented. The irony is that three months later I was laid off from my job. I still have to find one. But after Obama’s election, I am optimistic about life and that anything can happen. But I do feel neglected.

  19. 19 Dawit Jul 24th, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Why is Obama wasting time and money on this crap? That’s what Glen Beck would say.

  20. 20 Bice Kuffour Jul 24th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Great networking platform for Young African leaders to share their vision with non Africans. Just suprised no one is making any media noise about this great platform, or is it because no young leader was chosen from Ghana Or? Any answers.?

  21. 21 Teddy Jul 24th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I like the idea very much

  22. 22 Intern Moderator Jul 24th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    FYI to everyone: Breaking News

    Per the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, the following four young leaders will represent Ethiopia at the upcoming White House forum:

    Mahlet Eyassu Melkie, 29, Climate Change Activist
    Meron Getnet Hailegiorgis, 27, Author
    Salsawit Tsega Ketema, 30, Founder, Sel Art Gallery
    Yohannes Mezgebe Abay, 35, Vice President, Pan African Youth Union

  23. 23 Jeff Jul 28th, 2010 at 12:35 pm
  24. 24 Paul Omengbeoji Jul 31st, 2010 at 6:20 am

    This is all African leaders collective effort to take African to the next level before the year 2050,if Americans work inconjunction with other world leaders.

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