Bridging Gaps and Creating Opportunities: Key Takeaways from VP Kamala

Rare opportunities are few and far between. One such occasion was the invitation to be present at the monumental speech delivered by the Vice President of the United States. It was on an early Wednesday morning on March 22nd, 2023, when I received an email from the US Embassy in Ghana inviting me as a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network to this august occasion. Elated and honored to be part of the chosen few, I adhered to all the necessary rules and waited in anticipation for the expected day.

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On March 28th, 2023, at the Black Star Square, I found myself among about 500 young, hopeful Ghanaians who are determined to make a name for themselves on this continent with their wit, skill, and passion for leadership and entrepreneurship. Alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Young African Leaders (YALI) Network, RLC, USAGH, and universities such as Ashesi University, AUCC, and Webster University were also present.

The ceremony started promptly at 10:30 am with a video presentation of the YALI theme song and some cultural dances from Northern Ghana. Two speakers of Ghanaian descent mounted the stage and delivered inspiring and direct speeches meant to impact the youth of Ghana.

Soon after, the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, mounted the stage and delivered a breathtaking speech centered on women’s empowerment, digital inclusion, and good governance.

We innovate to be more effective and to solve more problems.

VP Kamala Harris

VP Harris highlighted the essence of innovation and the major role it plays in the economic growth of not only Ghana but the world at large. She stated, “We innovate to be more effective and to solve more problems,” emphasizing the need for new technology and social movements that would only be achieved if the youth rise with bold thinking, challenge the premise, and question the status quo. She gave many instances where the spark and creativity of the dreamers and innovators in countries such as Ghana, Rwanda

In her speech, the VP addressed the many achievements that we, as a continent, have attained, but also the several challenges we face, including security concerns in the Sahel, droughts, floods exacerbated by extreme climate conditions, hindrances in economic growth, and development. To address these aforementioned obstacles, she highlighted three key areas that we need to be intentional about to create opportunities, build growth, and stability. These areas are women’s empowerment, digital inclusion, and good governance and democracy.

In bridging the gender gap, she focused on the impact that women would have if they participate equally in leadership roles, as this is the key to maximizing global growth and opportunity. Concerning the digital economy, she stated that it is necessary for the 21st Century. For example, a student who studies online, a farmer who uses an app to aid in alerts about extreme weather conditions, or an entrepreneur who sells goods and services online, all make use of the internet. She encouraged bridging the gaps in the digital economy to aid innovation.

To conclude, she emphasized that partnerships between governments, the private sector, and the public sector should share expertise and experience so that “together we can unleash growth and opportunity that far exceeds what either the public or private sectors can achieve on their own And reassured that the United States of America is committed to build such partnerships.

I am absolutely thrilled and bursting with excitement about this historic event and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn, connect, and share my experiences with like-minded individuals. The unity and inclusion on display there was truly inspiring, and I can’t wait to experience all the amazing opportunities that lie ahead for Africa. It was a momentous occasion that will undoubtedly go down in history, and I was honored to have been a part of it!

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