Updated: Jan 25
On Saturday May 21, 2022, the conference on peace, reconciliation and development in Guinea, organized by the Guinean Young Leaders Initiative, was held at Kofi Annan University in Conakry. We invite you to read the welcome speech of our CEO, Souleymane Diallo.
Excellency Former Minister of Planning, Distinguished Former Ministers of Security, Madam Former Minister of Women's Rights and Empowerment, Mr. President of the Union of Democrats for the Renaissance of Guinea, Dear Professor and Director of the Department of African Studies at Howard University, Mr. Founder of Kofi Annan University, Dear Imam of the Mosque de Coeur, Madam President and CEO of A&M Business, Mr. Representative of the National Transitional Council, Madam President of the NGO Émergence-Agro-Pastorale, Dear Audience, My name is Souleymane Diallo and I am a third year student in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Rochester. It is on behalf of all my teammates, and in my capacity as CEO that I welcome you to the first edition of the conference on peace, reconciliation and development in Guinea organized by our Foundation, the Guinean Young Leaders Initiative (GYLI).
This year, the central theme of the conference is "64 Years After: What Future for Guinea?"
This theme was chosen in an essential desire to understand. First, understand the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial history of Guinea and how it contributed to making Guinea what it is today. Then, it is to understand the experience of the Guinean and the Guinean as a private and public person, their challenges and their opportunities on a daily basis. Finally, it is essential that we, as young people, be able to understand and define our mission with regard to the socio-economic and cultural development of Guinea.
Understanding, critically, who we are, where we come from, and where we are going, as a people is essential to not only strengthen social cohesion, but also to embrace the challenges facing us with determination, resilience , openness, compassion, and tolerance, for a common goal: to make Guinea a stronger and more united nation on all fronts.
Acting as a think tank, and bringing together academics, youth and students, entrepreneurs, members of civil society and public authorities from Guinea and elsewhere, this conference aims to create a framework for a sound dialogue and critical examination of the socio-economic, political and cultural issues facing Guinea and to promote an inclusive and open dialogue on Guinea's history and the country's path for the future.
To this end, we will attempt, with the help of our panelists and the commitment of our audience here and on Zoom, to answer five essential questions: (1) Who are we as Guineans? (2) Where are we as a country, state, and nation? (3) How did we get here? (4) Where are we going? (5) And finally, what are the roles and responsibilities of young people and women in the socio-economic and cultural development of Guinea?
Today's conference is just the first activity of our pilot program entitled "Stronger Together." From Monday May 23 to Friday May 27, 2022, we will organize, in this same room, an intensive training in entrepreneurship, ethical leadership and personal development for 30 talented young people aged 15 to 25 who have been selected from a list of more than 80 candidates. Among these young people, we have 13 women and 17 men from all strata of Guinean society and from all major regions of the country. During our training, these young people will also be exposed to the African Leadership Academy, one of the most innovative and selective pre-university programs in Africa whose mission is to develop the next generation of African leaders in Johannesburg, South Africa, the African Development University based in Niamey, a university with an American educational model and one of the few foreign institutions offering courses taught directly by professors from Harvard University, and the African Leadership University, a university company founded by famed entrepreneur Fred Swaniker.
After this training, we will organize a football tournament on Saturday June 04 to symbolize our desire for a Guinea that is more united and aware of its development challenges.
Created by decree n°005/MATD/CAB/SERPROMA/2022, the Guinean Young Leaders Initiative is a non-profit, educational and apolitical foundation whose mission is to identify, develop and connect the most promising people from Guinea so that together they drive positive change through entrepreneurship and ethical leadership.
You know, from the point of view of its potential, Guinea is one of the richest countries in the world. We have very large reserves of natural resources (bauxite, diamond, gold, manganese etc.) which will make many people pale, but also one of the youngest populations in Africa and by extension in the world. However, as you know, Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world. This paradox could be explained by several endogenous and exogenous factors. However, we are convinced that the two most important causes are, on the one hand, a lack of ethical and deontological leadership at all levels of society, and on the other hand, an educational system which very often kills creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit of young people.
Without ethical leadership, there can be no progress. Ethical leadership creates the stability necessary for a society to work on itself to become a stronger nation. Similarly, without an education system that focuses on innovation, the development of local talent and the promotion of creativity and entrepreneurship, we always risk reaching out; because it is one thing to have natural resources and a young population, but another thing to have the local skills and Guinean talents that can locally transform this socio-economic potential of Guinea into opportunities for the creation of wealth . Whether it is France, China, the United States, or another country, no one invests in Guinea to do charity, quite the opposite. Every investment is made with the aim of creating more opportunities for the investor in question, his country, and his people.
Until we have leaders at all levels who promote and enforce good public and private governance, entrepreneurs who create large-scale employment opportunities, scientists who address the greatest challenges of Guinea with innovative and technological solutions, we will always reach out and always look abroad for examples of leadership, use foreign technologies at all times, and be dependent on scientists from abroad during times of uncertainty. But we know that no country, regardless of its natural resources or the youthfulness of its population, has developed by relying on foreign forces, much less by doing without its local workforce. Singapore, China, Malaysia, Rwanda, Botswana, and South Korea are all high-growth countries and are among the most innovative countries thanks to large investments in their education sectors and the development of local talents.
Through the Guinean Young Leaders Initiative, we envision creating a sustainable ecosystem that will help create the stability Guinea needs to nurture, in a healthy and progressive way, leaders and entrepreneurs who will unlock the full socio-economic potential of the country, and an innovative education system that will identify, develop and connect Guinea's most promising young leaders to the resources needed to grow and the best opportunities to succeed in Guinea.
With over 60% of its population under the age of 25, we believe Guinea's future lies in its youth. At the Guinean Young Leaders Initiative, we invest in Guinean youth through innovative, non-profit educational and entrepreneurial programs whose mission is to retain the best Guinean talents in Guinea, for Guinea.
In the long term, we aspire to the creation of the Guinean Leadership Academy, an innovative and selective educational institution that will work to ensure that the most talented young people in Guinea have access to a world-class education in Guinea, stay in Guinea and can create themselves the socio-economic opportunities that the country needs for its development.
This conference, and our pilot program as a whole, would not have been possible without the support of our partners and sponsors, namely the Davis Projects for Peace, the National Coalition for the Support of Reconciliation in Guinea, the African Leadership Academy, the AJMP, the African Development University, G24 News Monde, the African Leadership University, the RTG, and the University of Rochester in New York, but also thanks to all our panelists and the audience that honored their presence. I cannot end my remarks without saying a big thank you to my teammates who have worked for weeks to organize this event, namely:
Chernor Diallo, our Chief Academic Officer and Co-Founder,
Amadou Keita, our Country Director,
Abdoul Rasmane Maiga, our Chief Technology Officer
Abdoulaye Kanté, our Finance Director,
Houlaymatou Bah, our Marketing Director,
Oumou Hawa Bah, our Communications Director,
Mamoudou Diané, our Director of Human Resources,
Mamadou Malado Diallo and Iliassa Baldé our Deputy Directors of Human Resources,
Jean Bernard Guilavogui and Alpha Oumar Diallo, our Graphic Designers
Last but not least, our Secretary General, Mohamed Kanté.
To all of you, I say thank you from the bottom of my heart for the great work done. With that, I will pass the floor to our Master of Ceremonies, Félix, who will present the conference schedule to us and will be assisted by Houlaymatou Bah for the presentation of our panelists as they speak. Thanks a lot.