The Heritage Foundation has always stood at the forefront of encouraging younger generations to sustain the principles of liberty and responsibility. This week, Heritage President Kay Coles James spoke to a group of rising leaders from Africa to encourage those same values.
Each year, the U.S. State Department’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) hosts the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit. The summit was created five years ago with the goal of bringing the best and brightest young adults in Africa to the United States to hear from public leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and policy experts. This year, 700 applicants were selected from a pool of 38,000 people.
After U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson welcomed the group to the summit, James took the stage to deliver the keynote address.
James’ 45-minute speech tied together the principles of liberty and leadership to encourage the audience to aid their countries in the most effective and altruistic ways. “You have an obligation to work for the good of the people, not yourself,” James said.
She also highlighted The Heritage Foundation’s work to promote free markets around the world. James tied individual freedom and market freedom together, explaining how both work hand-in-hand to create prosperity.
“For much of human history, most people have lacked economic freedom and opportunity, and they’ve been condemned to lives of poverty and deprivation,” James said. “Yet over the last 25 years, it’s been free markets and policies that promote economic freedom that have cut the global poverty rate by two thirds.”
“There’s an undeniable correlation between democracy and economic growth,” she added. “Human freedoms buttress economic development. The proof of this is that most of the freest countries in the world are also the wealthiest.”
James concluded her speech by telling the leaders that they are the future that could revive Africa; they themselves can be instrumental in causing the success of their continent.
In the coming decades, Africa’s global importance will only increase given the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit in so many of its countries, the continent’s vast economic opportunities, and its abundance of natural resource wealth.
Heritage has taken a leadership role by producing policy research and hosting major events, including National Security Advisor John Bolton’s speech on the Trump administration’s Africa strategy last December. And earlier this year, Heritage welcomed 20 ambassadors from African countries.