Inaugural YALDA Conference
With over one hundred delegates participating in the first YALDA Conference held at the American University in Cairo in September 2006, the event was inaugurated on 7 September by Omar Khalifa, President of YALDA Egypt in the presence of a kaleidoscope of people from all over Africa. The event was also graced with the attendance of His Excellency Hamady Saleh, Egyptian Ambassador to Mozambique. In his speech he said, “I appreciate this type of initiative and feel that it is a great way for the youth to network. Africa – the forgotten continent – cannot move forward until the young ones, like those present here, take initiative.”
With the theme, “An African Course in Development: Youth Redefining Leadership.” , the four-day event focused on development in Africa, networking youth and professionals and equipping them with necessary skills and resources that would facilitate their initiatives and inspirations.
“Thinking Big”, an engagingly informative workshop done by Dr. Mohamed Shehab El Din, Professor at MSA University, focused on leadership and development of hidden potential. The second day of conference was ‘informative panels’ day, devoted entirely to discussing the challenges facing the development of Africa and problem-solving. Dr. Mona Makram Ebied, Professor of Political Science at AUC and President of Association for Advancement of Education, started off the panel session by emphasizing the need for education and impeding the phenomenon of brain drain.
Dr. Amr Mahgoub from the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke about health and wellness in Africa. He said that health was not only an important part of development, but in fact “the heart of development”. In addition to this, Mr. Colin Coleman, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs South Africa, touched on the business opportunities present in Africa. As a resource-rich continent, he said, Africa has massive opportunities. “In terms of the global race, we have a lot of running to do. I think it is really important to get this continent to move.” The Botswana representative was Mrs. Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, CEO Botswana Expert Development and Investment Authority (BEDIA), and Ambassador Hamady Saleh held a joint workshop and together with the other three panelists. They also held an intriguing question and answer segment.
After the workshops, the delegates were also treated to a tour of Cairo with a dinner cruise on the Nile on the first day. Delegates visited the majestic pyramids and went on a historic journey on the culture of Egypt at the Cairo museum. Furthermore, the delegates went to Culture Wheel for the official close of the conference, which included dinner, closing speeches and enjoyable musical performances. Certificates were awarded to everyone in a ceremony on Sunday, the official end of the whole event.