President Barack Obama

With 60 percent of Africa's population under the age of 35, young people stand to play as important a role in their respective nations' success on the continent as anywhere else in the world.

On Monday, 500 such young people, who have spent the summer honing their skills at U.S. universities, will have an audience with President Barack Obama.

Obama will hold a town hall with the inaugural participants in the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, an initiative he announced in 2013 as part of the Young African Leaders Initiative, White House officials say. The program is designed to connect people identified as "sub-Saharan Africa's most promising young leaders ages 25 to 35" with "established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries" to leadership-training opportunities at American universities.

The meeting with these emerging leaders will include a tribute to an iconic one. In addition to announcing new public-private partnerships to support the fellowship, White House officials say, the president will announce that the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program will be renamed in honor of former South African President Nelson Mandela.


Although the fellows' Washington, D.C., placements conclude at the end of July, Monday's town hall doesn't represent the end of their participation in the program. YALI regional coordinators based at U.S. embassies throughout Africa are expected to provide fellows with tools to support their continued work when they return to their home countries.

The YALI Summit, taking place at Washington, D.C.'s Omni Shoreham, precedes next week's inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the largest gathering any U.S. president has held with African heads of state and government.