October 26, 2023

Van Hollen, Rounds, Kamlager-Dove, Kim Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Strengthen U.S.-Africa Ties

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, and U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced the bipartisan Young African Leaders Initiative Act to make permanent the State Department’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). U.S. Representatives Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.) and Young Kim (R-Calif.) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

YALI is the United States’ signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Nearly one in three Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35. YALI was launched in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across sub-Saharan Africa.

“Building stronger people-to-people ties between the many African countries and the United States holds tremendous benefit for all of our nations – from promoting greater understanding to expanding opportunity for all. The Young African Leaders Initiative has been key to strengthening these relationships and realizing these benefits, which is why we should make it permanent. Passing this legislation will ensure we continue our investments in Africa’s emerging leaders and pave the way for a brighter shared future for the nations of Africa and the U.S.,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“I am committed to strengthening democracy, prosperity and peace in Africa,” said Senator Rounds. “The Young African Leaders Initiative was created in 2010 to empower young African leaders to gain the skills and education for the advancement of democratic governance and stability across the continent. Continued U.S. engagement in the region is essential to building strategic partnerships while simultaneously deterring influence from our adversaries. I am pleased to join Senator Van Hollen to make this initiative permanent and to foster the next generation of African leaders.”

“The Young African Leaders’ Initiative represents the U.S. commitment to empowering the next generation of African leaders. It also reflects our recognition of the essential role Africans will play in addressing global challenges and forging innovative solutions to today’s most pressing issues,” said Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation to strengthen U.S.-Africa people-to-people ties, invest in Africa's young people, and position the U.S. as a supportive partner in Africa’s future.”

“People-to-people diplomacy is how we build relationships, promote U.S. strength, and create prosperous communities and more opportunities around the world,” said Rep. Young Kim, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa. “The State Department’s Young African Leaders Initiative has proven to be an effective way to strengthen democracy, prosperity, and peace in the region while supporting young Africans making a difference in their communities. I thank Rep. Kamlager-Dove for working with me on this bill.”

Bill text can be viewed here.