The University of South Africa (Unisa) leadership says it was elated by its selection by the United States adding that this came as a result of existing good relationship.
“We have had a relationship with the US through the USAID as they are currently financially supporting one of our programme called management of democratic elections in Africa now in its third year,” Mandla Makhanya principal and vice chancellor of Unisa told CNBC Africa.
(READ MORE: The power of democracy: S.Africa's 2014 election fever)
Makhanya said that based on the kind of efficiency and satisfaction experienced by the US in the manner in which Unisa have conducted themselves through the management of democratic elections project the university was then offered to partner with the US on the YALI project.
Other partner countries in the renamed YALI project, now to be known as the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders are Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal.
“The centres will improve the availability and quality of training programmes and professional development opportunities for young African leaders,” noted Makhanya.
“Each centre will be run as a public-private partnership, capitalising on the energy and dynamism of the private sector, the knowledge of African and American institutions, and the programmatic and educational resources of the US Government.”
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) launched in 2010 is a signature initiative that supports young African leaders as they work to spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across the continent.
Many African countries are dogged by democratic challenges with some having been under authoritarian rule since liberation from colonial rule.
(WATCH VIDEO: Democracy and leadership in Africa a challenge)
It is against this background that through the YALI programme, the US seeks to leverage Africa’s democracy through investing in the next generation of African leaders as it is viewed as critical to ensuring the success of Africa’s economies.
According to the USAID, one in three Africans is between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35.
“Through YALI, the United States is investing in the next generation of African leaders, and has committed significant resources to enhance leadership skills, bolster entrepreneurship, and connect young African leaders with one another, with the United States, and with the American people.”