Monday, February 25, 2008

Ambassador Sanders' Remarks on Launch of Youth Skills Development Program

Ambassador Robin Reneé Sanders


Launch of Youth Skills Development Program
LEAP Africa/Microsoft Nigeria/U.S. Mission Nigeria

Chief Bole Ige Information Technology Center
February 25, 2008
11 a.m.

I am very pleased to be here today to launch this partnership between the U.S. Mission Nigeria, Microsoft Nigeria and LEAP Africa’s Youth Leadership Program.

I am also delighted to be here at the Chief Bole Ige Information Technology Center, which was funded by the U.S. Government on behalf of the American people under the African Education Initiative, a program to strengthen the educational systems and promote democratic processes through linkages with the United States.

In recent years, national and multinational corporations, local businesses, foundations, local and international banks, to name a few, are emerging as new actors in development efforts.

Within Nigeria, corporate philanthropy and activism for change among community, voluntary, and non-governmental groups is growing.

More and more organizations and people recognize the importance of development for achieving peace, security, and prosperity. We often think about development as building things – roads, for example – or creating and implementing political and economic policies. At its heart, however, development means investing in people – providing them the tools to improve their lives as individuals, and allowing them to become more productive members of their families, their communities, their nation.

I am proud that Investing in People is one of the cornerstones of the U.S. Mission’s activities in Nigeria.

We invest in people by emphasizing the rule of law and the accountability of the government to its people; and by supporting sustainable agriculture and diversified economic growth so that people can support themselves and their families.

Improved delivery of social sector services, especially in education not only is vital to the strength of a nation but key for the youth of Nigeria’s future. The U.S. partnership in this area includes assisting Nigerian students to study in the U.S., sending Nigerian scholars to study and teach in the U.S., and sponsoring American scholars to study and teach in Nigeria. This allows for us to better know and learn from each other – something we call mutual understanding.

We also invest in the people of Nigeria by supporting this training center and the American Corner it hosts.

To this end we are very pleased to partner with Microsoft Nigeria and LEAP Africa. Our partnership will build on LEAP Africa’s Youth Leadership Program, which focuses on providing young people with life and leadership skills. This specific endeavor will focus on these skills for young people in Bauchi and Kano States.

We are presenting LEAP Africa with a check for $70,000, about 8.225 million naira, to support the leadership training of 400 young people in these two states--training that will help them to succeed in the workplace including in such important areas as information and communications.

I have been impressed with the range of programs provided by Microsoft and LEAP Africa and proud we can be good partners and good friends in this program. I look forward to building on this endeavor to further invest in Nigeria’s people and its future, and in celebrating our shared values of democracy, diversity and the importance of education.

And now it is my privilege to provide LEAP Africa with a symbolic check for $70,000.