Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony

Ambassador Terence P. McCulley  and the Governor of the Autonomous District of Abidjan during the signing ceremony

Mr. Governor of the Autonomous District of Abidjan,

Ladies and Gentlemen the Directors

Members of the Media

Honorable invitees

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to thank you for your warm welcome this morning.  And I am very honored to say a few words at this brief and very important ceremony marking the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between the District of Abidjan and the Embassy of the United States in Côte d’Ivoire, which will join our two governments with the opening of the Young African Leaders Initiative Center, at the Library of the Autonomous District of Abidjan.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Governor, along with all his collaborators who engaged themselves fully in the development of the terms of this partnership, which resulted in this important project; a project that will serve without a doubt to strengthen the capacity of Ivoirian youth.

This collaboration demonstrates our common desire to promote entrepreneurship and leadership among the youth.  As we all know, promoting entrepreneurship, especially among youth, is a major priority, not only for the Embassy of the United States in Côte d’Ivoire, but also for the government of Barack Obama.

Ever since his historic speech in Cairo in 2009, President Obama has clearly indicated that entrepreneurship would form the basis of the US commitment.  His administration has kept that promise by organizing the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington, and then initiating the Young African Leaders Initiative – YALI, also known as the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, which is a cornerstone of his diplomatic legacy, and  then by pledging to inject $1 billion dollars in new private investments by entrepreneurs from all over the world.

The establishment of the Young African Leaders Initiative Center is the logical continuation of our government’s engagement with bringing more youth online, youth who will take part in the actual social and economic development of the country, but also the development of everyone.

This Center will thus help young Ivoirian entrepreneurs to access the information and tools that they need to make a difference in their country, find their own path and contribute actively to the country’s goal to reach emerging economy status by 2020.  At the Young African Leaders Initiative Center, Ivoirian citizens can strengthen their capacities through American speakers, cultural activities, exchange programs, and programs for alumni.

I am certain this MOU that we are signing today will mark the beginning of what we hope will be a long and fruitful collaboration, and will increase mutual understanding between our two peoples.

Thank you very much.