WASHINGTON - Hundreds of Africa's emerging leaders are gathered in Washington for a three-day summit that includes a meeting with President Barack Obama. The summit is a highlight of a six-week U.S. fellowship that has given about 500 young Africans a chance to sharpen their skills through coursework and professional development. Some participants plan to remain in the United States to learn more about how they can help their home countries.
Zimbabwe's Rumbidzai Dube, a lawyer and human rights defender, is among those staying. She wants to learn more about how to help victims of human trafficking.
“I have been wanting to work in the field of human trafficking for a very long time. And because a lot of people in Zimbabwe do not see this as an issue, there is very little buy-in, even from international NGO’s [non-governmental organizations]," she said.
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Dube will have that opportunity through an internship with the state government criminal services division in Columbus, Ohio.
She explained her goal. "To lobby my government to put together social protections, measures that allow the victims to be re-integrated into society.”
Takunda Chingonzo has a passion for start-up companies. He is a co-founder of two in his native Zimbabwe, including one that offers free public WiFi services.
He said African start-ups, in general, have had a problem with sustainability.
"I have come to realize that start-ups in Africa have this one fear of giving equity. We want to own our companies wholly," he said. "And yet, when it comes to business liability, that does not make sense."
Chingonzo said he hopes that through his work with a California-based investment and strategic management firm, he will be able to find solutions to help African businesses.
Gerald Afadani of Cameroon also has an interest in technology.
"We are looking at a time when the world is evolving and moving to a digital level and Cameroon cannot stay behind," said Afadani.
He plans to put his talents to use at the United Nations Foundation in New York.
Afadani also has a vision that includes all of the participants in the Young African Leaders Initiative.
He wants all of the fellows to be better equipped and better skilled so that they can bring positive change to Africa, and the world at large.