U.S. Commitment to Africa

U.S. Commitment to Africa



Through YALI, the United States has invested significant resources to enhance leadership skills, promote entrepreneurship and connect young African leaders with one another and with Americans. Every year, the U.S. Department of State holds exchange programs specifically for young African leaders and sponsors sub-Saharan students and scholars through its educational and cultural affairs programs. In addition, U.S. embassies in Africa award small grants to YALI alumni groups to support youth development in Africa beyond the exchange programs.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked with local governments and institutions to strengthen access to education, workforce training and skills development to help young Africans have the skills needed to enter the labor force. Since YALI’s inception, USAID has invested in partnerships with African universities to help train a new generation of African leaders in health, agriculture, education, environmental science, technology and other sectors. Currently, USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network — a $25 million per year program — partners with African and U.S. higher education institutions, using science, technology and engineering to educate future leaders and research solutions for the greatest challenges in development. To further expand YALI across the continent, USAID has established Regional Leadership Centers to enhance leadership and training opportunities in Africa and better leverage over $200 million in ongoing youth programs and initiatives on the continent, such as university partnerships and vocational training.

Other departments and agencies have reoriented their programs and strategies to contribute to the goal of providing opportunities for youth in Africa. The U.S. Department of Labor, for example, is investing in efforts to promote safe youth employment and business opportunities as alternatives to child labor, including a new $3 million program in Uganda to educate and train youth for quality jobs. The U.S. African Development Foundation is investing $5 million in training and placing thousands of Somali youth in paid internships and jobs, in addition to supporting small-business startups.

YALI participants have leveraged this support and gone on to start youth-driven organizations and networks, advise their governments, and establish new and vibrant businesses — all showcasing the extraordinary talent and promise of the young leaders who are transforming the African continent and their communities.


The United States’ commitment to Africa is long-standing and deep. The United States has invested in development partnerships with Africans to foster sustained economic growth, promote food security, increase resilience to climate change, and improve the capacity of countries and communities to address HIV/AIDS, malaria and other health threats.


The United States has worked to strengthen democratic institutions in sub-Saharan Africa through high-level diplomatic engagement, institution building and programs that develop the capacity of judiciaries, legislatures, media and civil society.


Examples of efforts to promote trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa include:

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) promotes free markets, expands U.S.-African trade and investment, stimulates economic growth, and facilitates sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy. Through AGOA, the United States works with African countries to promote construction of infrastructure, improved business climate, regional economic integration and trade preferences for exports to the United States.

The United States recognizes that women are the backbone of African communities and key to unlocking economic growth. The United States helps to empower women through the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), an outreach, education and engagement initiative. It targets African women entrepreneurs to promote business growth, increase trade both regionally and to U.S. markets through AGOA, create better business environments and help African women entrepreneurs become agents of change in their communities.


The United States provides significant support to peacekeeping operations across the continent, including the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Through the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, the United States continues to advance efforts to strengthen women’s participation in peacebuilding and protect women from sexual and gender-based violence in conflict.


The YALI Network provides you email updates and opportunities to collaborate with young leaders across Africa.