10 February 2013

Africa: How to Get Leaders Who Will Transform Africa


WHEN I read a comment sent to me recently by an official of African Leadership Academy (ALA) with its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa it indeed inspired me to write this article.

The statement says:"Too often, we invest in addressing the symptoms of bad leadership in Africa: We give blankets, food, and medicine to those impacted by war, poverty and famine. Many of my readers will agree that these efforts will never stop unless we develop leaders who prevent wars from occurring in the first place, entrepreneurs who create jobs, and scientists who sustainably increase food production and access to healthcare.

African Leadership Academy will develop and connect thousands of transformative young leaders in the next 50 years." ALA has demonstrated its commitment, as it has started seeking to enable lasting peace and prosperity in Africa by developing and connecting the continent's future leaders is recruiting secondary school students in Tanzania and in other countries in the continent.

According to the visiting African Leadership Academy Official (Academy), Mr Elmahdi Oummih, who was in Tanzania do conduct the same exercise, his organisation goal is to get 250 students from Tanzania applying for the leadership academy training.

He explains that African Leadership Academy achieves this mission through a robust admissions process that identifies 100 of Africa's most promising young leaders each year, regardless of background; a rigorous two-year preuniversity programme that enables intellectual growth and leadership development, including sustained, authentic practice of entrepreneurial leadership, and a lifelong ecosystem that connects these leaders with each other and with transformative opportunities that will expand the scope and scale of their dreams and impact.

"Our leadership development formula is relatively simple: we believe that by identifying young leaders with immense potential, enabling them to practice leadership, and connecting them with transformative opportunities, we can develop and empower the next Nelson Mandela, the next Wangari Maathai, and Africa's Jonas Salk and Steve Jobs."

ALA was founded in 2004 by Fred Swaniker, Chris Bradford, Peter Mombaur and Acha Leke. ALA's Trustees and Advisors include internationally recognized luminaries in business, leadership development, education and social entrepreneurship. Since 2008, ALA has used a multifaceted admissions process to evaluate over 9,000 youth in 42 African nations to select the 380 young leaders in our first four classes -- making ALA one of the most selective educational institutions in the world.

ALA delivers worldclass intellectual development and university preparation; three ALA students have been placed among the top 10 performers in the world on their Cambridge International Examinations -- the most widely administered pre-university examinations in the world.

ALA's first two graduating classes have been admitted to the world's top universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Duke, University of Cape Town, London School of Economics and Princeton and have been awarded over US $21 million in university scholarship support. ALA graduates study at every Ivy League university in the USA, and are expected to return to the continent after university studies. ALA's supporters span 25 countries on six continents.

The official said that:"Our leading supporters include Omidyar Network, The Robertson Foundation, The Bezos Family Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation, Hakeem and Myma Belo- Osagie, Gbenga and Aisha Oyebode, James Mwangi, Oppenheimer family, The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Equity Bank, Cisco Systems, The WK Kellogg Foundation, and The Google Foundation."

ALA's young leaders are already demonstrating their ability to drive change on a continental scale, launching projects and realizing dreams that have the potential to transform Africa. For example a good example is one successful story of David Mwendele who was a beneficiary of Anzisha prize programme. He is currently running a community programme in Yombo Dar es Salaam.

They have built nonprofit organizations to combat entrenched social issues; they have developed scalable innovations to address local nutritional challenges; they are exploring cutting- edge ideas in science and technology through their on-campus research, they have launched profitable businesses; and they have shared their ideas at various forums on the global stage.

The Anzisha Prize ( www.anzishaprize.com ) was established jointly by the ALA Entrepreneurship Centre and the MasterCard Foundation to celebrate and inspire Africa's young entrepreneurial leaders. CNN produced a segment about the African Leadership Academy for CNN Africa Voices. Princeton University hosted the inaugural ALA Indaba in August 2011 that brought together about 50 ALA graduates with business, political and social sector leaders from both Africa and the U.S.

The enthusiastic opening remarks by Princeton's President, Shirley Tilghman, set an engaging tone for the discussions between gathered elders and ALA's young leaders. The program for the ALA graduates covered most of the week with sessions ranging from college tips shared by the older students to workshops organized by Echoing Green focused on skill development for social entrepreneurship.

Princeton produced a brief video with highlights of the ALA Indaba. National Public Radio aired a segment about ALA on their Morning Edition program in September 2010. After discussing all these achievements there is every reason for Africa to feel energetic and join the effort of tapping into the existing potentials in their youths who are the potential future leaders of this continent.

The signature tune is that these models that are developed and tested by ALA should be used in the African countries for generating future leaders. It is time for African government to borrow a leaf from ALAF on its succession plans for future leaders, something which most countries do not have in place.

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