The African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum was hosted under the banner of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on December 13th, 2022. At the forum, Vice President Kamala Harris announced the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement (PAC-ADE). The formation of PAC-ADE was officially authorized by executive order by President Joe Biden who directed Secretary of State Antony Blinken to establish it.
PAC-ADE will be made up of a mixture of representatives from the African and African-American communities who have excelled in their respective professional fields. The Advisory Council will have to provide counsel on ideas that would uplift the African Diaspora in the U.S. These ideas include supporting the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent and strategies to advance equity and opportunities for African Diaspora communities.
The Advisory Council is tasked with the setting up of several programs that will enable the strengthening of the economic, social, cultural, and political bond between African communities, the African Diaspora across the world, and the United States. These include the International Visitor Leadership program which is meant to increase academic exchange programs between the U.S. and Africa. Programs such as Prosper Africa were specially designed to equip the African Diaspora with the means to participate economically in the U.S.
Programs to increase private and public sector collaborations and community involvement in improving the socioeconomic well-being of African Diaspora communities would also have to be implemented by the Advisory Council.
Besides PAC-ADE, the U.S. government will be investing and funding in several, different engagements with the Diaspora. This will be through the support of tertiary education and workforce development. Investments will also go toward the creative fields, entrepreneurship, and environmental equity.
Several other programs will be invested in. There will be an Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). EXIM and the African Export-Import Bank are signing a Memorandum of Understanding worth $500 million. The MOU will see provision for the expansion of Diaspora commercial engagement across Africa.
The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program will see an investment of $1 million and will fund small grants to train women as business people and support women-owned businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. Vice President Harris announced the University Partnerships Initiative (UPI) which will see collaborations between US and African universities. This will include student exchanges, joint research, and partnerships in academic administration.
The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) will be involved in several partnerships. The USADF will be attached to an entrepreneurship program with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). Vice President Harris announced that USADF, working with Congress and TEF, would contribute up to $4 million to provide investment toolkits. This would be in the form of non-repayable capital of up to $5,000 to African business people and enterprises ranging from micro to medium-sized. The USADF will also introduce an award known as the Annual Diaspora Award that would provide financial support for US-based businesses owned and led by members of the African Diaspora.
The Global Leaders-African Descent Social Entrepreneurship Program will see an important project implemented in 2023. One of the projects will see the Department of State likely provide $500,000 to connect social entrepreneurs of African descent across the world and launch the African Descent Social Entrepreneurship Network. This will initially see the connection of 52 foreign participants and 25 Americans involved in a collaboration with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Atlanta, Santo Antonio, and New Orleans. In May 2023, the Department of State will convene US higher education representatives and educators from across Africa to explore strategies for increasing the recruitment and retention of African students on different US campuses.